What I Like About You – Marisa Kanter – Simon and Schuster – Published 7 April 2020
There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.
He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…
Except who she really is.
Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.
That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.
Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.
If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.
What I Like About You is about blogging, a love triangle with only two people, online relationships and friendships, books, cupcakes and more books. It’s also about family, growing up and learning to be a better friend. This reads like a great teen novel. The characters have realistic teen voices, from their integrated use of social media and text speech, to facing the problems of finishing high school. It’s a fun, lighthearted book.
Halle Levitt is better known to her many online followers as Kels, book reviewer, blogger and cupcake baker. When she and her brother move in with their grandfather while their parents go overseas for work, she doesn’t expect to come face-to-face with her online (and overall, let’s be honest) best friend, Nash. Shocked, she doesn’t tell him who she is, just introduces herself as Halle. As she gets to know Nash in real life, becomes friends with his friends and maybe even fall in love with him, it becomes harder for Halle to know how she is going to reveal that she and Kels are the same person.
You’ve read this book before. The main character keeps their online identity a secret from their new/old friends. The secret grows bigger and bigger, until bang, explosion and hearts and feelings everywhere. Halle’s brother even warns her in exactly that way. ‘You’ve read this book before’. But Halle has some legitimate reasons for keeping her secrets and once that secret is out there it’s harder and harder to reveal it. The buildup and dilemma of ‘when will I tell him’ will be familiar to readers. But there is a lot more to the book.
Things I loved
- representation of Jewish faith and Jewish teens
- The YA book world, from blogging to cons to twitter. I also enjoyed the sections about YA being for teens as the primary audience. As a 30-year-old YA reader I was not offended by that. I agree wholeheartedly. I don’t believe it shouldn’t be for all readers, we all love YA, but I don’t think that’s what Halle was saying. I think she was just reminding the world that YA is for teens and I think that’s important for authors and publishers and bloggers to remember.
- Cupcakes. Seriously. Is there a blog like One True Pastry where I can feast on cupcake photos?
- Halle’s brother. So cute! So supportive.
- Halle’s grandpa. Grieving, loving, hurting Gramps.
- Halle’s love for her grandmother. Her relationship with her Grams drives many of her decisions and that’s really sweet.
- Family is an important part of this book and the family sections were my favourite bits.
What I Like About You is Marisa Kanter’s debut novel, but she clearly draws upon her knowledge of book publishing and marketing to weave so much truth about the YA world of blogging and publicity into this lighthearted novel.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Online relationships, social media, books, blogs, blogging, cupcakes, friendship, grandparents, grief, anxiety.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: Infrequent coarse language, sh** (19), pi** (10), as***** (1).
Published: 7 April 2020 by Simon and Schuster.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 416 pages.