Saturday, September 10, 2016

Book Review: How To Make Out by Brianna Shrum

Author: Brianna Shrum
Series: N/A
Audience: +15
Genre: YA, Contemporary Y
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: September 6, 2016
My Rating: 3.5 cups
Source: Edelweiss
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.

So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).

As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.

Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.

*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my rating of the book in any way.

If you're expecting a light, fun read, know that this book is much more complex than that. It's actually one of the things that surprised me about this book, but also one of the things I loved most about it.

The blurb fooled me. Like I said, I was expecting a lighter read, instead I found myself reading about the danger of losing yourself, and how easy it is to be influenced by others, especially at such a young age.

Renley is funny, and awkward, and at times she reminded me of myself and of most of my girl friends growing up. She had many thoughts that I did, so I was able to relate with her in certain moments. Towards the end though, I felt as though she wasn't as aware of the consequences of what she did and how it could affect others. The one thing I didn't like about her was this "say like me or you're not my friend" attitude. Throughout the book she had these moments where she seemed a bit selfish, and I think that if you call someone your best friend, then you're accepting the dose of honesty that they'll give you when you need it.

Drew was actually my favorite character. I loved the guy, and I wish Renley would have noticed him earlier. He's a really thoughtful guy, and I would've wanted to see him more throughout the book. While I believe what he did was extreme, I'm glad he did it and it showed that he cared about Renley more than he let on.

One of my pet peeves in YA is, as you probably know, irresponsible adults. I had a bit of an issue here with that, because I feel that it was a bit too much, in a way. Renley's mom is not in the picture, her dad is not a father figure, and Drew's parents are just as bad, if not worse. So I'm not really sure how the adults in this book expected these kids to be just fine and to be mature and stuff.

I'm sure the blog aspect of this book has been brought up a lot, but it is a very important aspect of this book, too important to be left unmentioned. I'm not sure how she got to be so popular, since in the beginning she wasn't really dedicated to her blog, visiting it, creating new posts and such. I found the fact that Renley was willing to do a bunch of things for this blog, that otherwise it probably wouldn't have crossed her mind, very important and very telling. It showed that she really didn't get over her mom abandoning her, and that no matter how much she tried to pretend otherwise, her dad was also a negative figure for her. I liked how near the end of the book, after a scene with her dad, she acknowledged the scene as a really important one for their father-daughter relationship. But at the same time, I'm not sure I believe Renley learned her lesson. She's sixteen and she can make mistakes, and she should make some mistakes, because that's how you learn, but I would want to believe that she learned something.

The plot is pretty fast, and I read this book in one sitting. There were a bunch of funny scenes in this book, which I enjoyed. All in all, a pretty good and funny book.

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