Well That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail (2017)

awkwardIt’s Cyrano de Bergerac with smartphones. Diverse and thoroughly modern.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up

Pages:  320 (for ISBN 9780670013081)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, romance, diverse

Tone/Style: modern, youthful, sarcastic

Pace: leisurely to moderate

Topics: cons, technology, crushes

Themes: friendship, dating relationships, growing up, change

Summary: Gracie has never felt like this before.  One day, she suddenly can’t breathe, can’t walk, can’t anything—and the reason is standing right there in front of her, all tall and weirdly good-looking: A.J.

But it turns out A.J. likes not Gracie but Gracie’s beautiful best friend, Sienna. Obviously Gracie is happy for Sienna. Super happy! She helps Sienna compose the best texts, responding to A.J.’s surprisingly funny and appealing texts, just as if she were Sienna. Because Gracie is fine. Always! She’s had lots of practice being the sidekick, second-best.

It’s all good. Well, almost all. She’s trying.

Funny and tender, Well, That Was Awkward goes deep into the heart of middle school, and  finds that even with all the heartbreak, there can be explosions of hope and moments of perfect happiness. (Source)

Who will like this book?: This is one of the few books that relies heavily on texting and actually gets it right. Many middle school girls will relate to the roller coaster of crushes and friend drama experienced by Gracie and her friends, played out on the electronic stomping grounds of Generation Z.

Who won’t like this book?: While I hate to generalize, I can’t think of a lot of boys who would be interested in this. Though it does well with its subject matter, the book is a little light on substance, and that may deter some readers. Readers looking for believability will find some plot points unlikely.

Other comments: none 

Sequel(s): n/a

Readalikes: Vail’s Unfriended is the obvious choice; it also is rife with girl drama and social technology. Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead has an equal amount of drama but a bit more seriousness to it. Those looking for something really over-the-top could try The Clique (if you haven’t weeded it yet). Booklist recommends Cici Reno: #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker by Kristina Springer, another book that plays on Cyrano de Bergerac. (I guess you could also recommend Cyrano de Bergerac, but that might be a tough sell.)

-Kylie Peters

Image credit: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30422650-well-that-was-awkward

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