What is this? Am I actually reviewing one of my most anticipated reads of the year after I said I would? I know its shocking, but its true. Sorry for not posting for like a week and a half, it wasn’t a planned break. Anyways, on to the review.
Summary from Goodreads:
Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.
Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.
Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.
“They make us think the grade is more important than the learning, and that’s messed up. We’re all overwhelmed. You’re not alone.”
Content warning: drug use, anxiety, mental breakdown
If this book had been out my senior year of high school, it would have helped and changed my life so so much. Even though it didn’t, I still loved it so much and it I think it is so important.
Let’s Chat: Plot and Writing
Ariel is just a stressed out high school senior. His college applications are due soon, he has interviews with alums, religious commitments, volunteering commitments, and friendship commitments all on top of a schedule loading with a ridiculous amount of AP classes. If that sounds kind of impossible to manage, its because it is. That is basically what the entire book is about, there is not a clear, major plot. This book is very character driven and mainly just follows Ariel along as he tries to get through his senior year in one piece. That being said, the lack of a real plot did not affect my interest at all while I was reading. I was completely invested the entire time, once I picked it up I never wanted to put it down.
The writing was the only slight issue I had with this book, and I only really had that feeling in the beginning. As I was reading the first fifteen pages or so I sometimes found myself cringing at how seemingly basic the writing was. It got better as the book went on, or I was just too caught up in the characters to notice it any more. If I was rating the book solely on writing and not the plot or the importance of its message, it would probably get about 3.5 or 4 stars, depending on my mood. So if writing is make or break thing for you, know going in that you may not like it.
Let’s Chat: Characters
“I’ve spent years working towards this one goal. It’s all I am. I’m not Ariel, the one with the band, or Ariel, the one with the camera. I’m Ariel, the one with the highest GPA. That’s it. If I don’t have perfect grades, who am I?”
I wanted to wrap Ariel up in a super tight hug this entire book. His though process was far too relatable for comfort, it was honestly like I was reliving my junior and senior year of high school and it was a lot for me.
However this boy was also so soft? I loved seeing him play with Rachel, go out on dates, play with dogs, and have conversations with his rabbi. He was just amazing and I hope that he’s taking a break and drinking lots of water.
“Medicine is a miracle, and I want to be a part of it.”
Oh, my sweet little excellent photographer and Harry Potter nerd. I love you a lot too. I love how one of these days he’s going to be out saving lives, probably while asking his patients what their opinions on Harry/Cedric are. I can’t wait. I literally don’t have anything else to say about him other than I love him a lot and he is my baby. Though to be fair, all of them are.
An all girl band staring a sapphic girl? Its like this book gave me what I wanted without me even knowing what I wanted. I really loved Sook and I can’t wait for her to kick ass at Dartmouth all while being a total rock star on the side.
Okay, Rachel? My favorite. Have I said that about every character? Yes. I don’t care. She was so sweet and accurately written for a kid her age, which I’ve found is pretty rare in books. That one scene (if you’ve read the book you know the scene)? Broke my heart until a million pieces and it wasn’t repaired until she got to hang out with a dog for a while.
Let’s Chat: Favorite Quotes
“It’s cool for guys to be successful. But if a girl wants to achieve the same level of success, we’re annoying. Like we’re asking for too much.”
“Sometimes even the smartest student needs a tutor.”
“I get this weird high when I’m hyperproductive and always checking something off my list.”
Let’s Chat: Overall Thoughts
If its not clear by now, I loved this book. Like a lot. Its so so very important and I am so very glad we are finally having discussions about how school and AP classes can be detrimental to students mental health. Now that I am out of high school, I can see how harmful they were for me and my classmates and it honestly blows my mind how no one caught this? I would have anxiety attacks over these classes to the point where I would be sent home because I couldn’t calm down and would get sick. A friend of mine regularly worked on homework until 3 AM after taking a thirty minute power nap at midnight. Like, why was no one saying anything about this?
Anyways I got way off track there. The point is that I loved this book. It was so wholesome (minus all the stress), has a diverse set of characters, and is just amazing? I’d highly recommend it to like literally everyone, I can’t wait to hear about other peoples feelings about Ariel and Amir and how cute they are.
Have you read this book? If so, did you enjoy it? I’d love to talk about it in the comments!