Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication Date: June 4, 2019 Format: eARC
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Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
A fun, witty, light-hearted romantic comedy―The Rosie Project, for teens
Seventeen-year-old Amalia Yaabez and Ezra Holtz couldn’t be more different. They’ve known (and avoided) each other their whole lives; she unable to stand his buttoned-up, arrogant, perfect disposition, and he unwilling to deal with her slacker, rule-breaking way of moving through the world.
When they are unhappily paired on an AP Psychology project, they come across an old psychological study that posits that anyone can fall in love with anyone, if you put them through the right scientific, psychological steps. They decide to put that theory to the test for their project, matching couples from different walks of high school life to see if science really can create love.
As they go through the whirlwind of the experiment, Ezra and Amalia realize that maybe it’s not just the couples they matched who are falling for each other . . .
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This review might be a little incoherent because I don’t know how to articulate my love for this book. I read The Art of French Kissing by Brianna Shrum last summer and loved it so much, so when I saw the opportunity to read her most recent release early, I jumped on it. This book came out in June, and I don’t know why it took me so long to pick it up but I’m so glad I finally did.
This YA novel follows Ezra and Amalia, two high school seniors who’ve known each other since they were kids, and don’t really like each other. Amalia is an artist and has a more-go-with-the-flow attitude and loves to party and be social, Ezra is her opposite and is kind of a nerd and loves to follow rules. The two are paired together for an AP Psych project, and are not looking forward to working together the whole semester. Hate to love is one of my favorite tropes, and I enjoyed reading about both characters begrudgingly start to like each other.
This is one of my favorite books of 2019 and I loved everything about this book, except that I was (irrationally) angry when Amalia and Ezra were talking about the study their research project was based on. I know I’m going off on a tangent here, but Arthur Aron’s research is not a list of questions that’ll make you fall in love. This is such a small thing, but every time I see it brought up in books and articles I get irrationally angry. I also cringed every time the two characters talked about what Aron’s research or their research “proved” because scientists don’t use the word “prove” at all. This is such a small part of the book that I was able to glaze over it and focus on the rest of the story, but I definitely felt like I needed someone to hear me complain lol.
Kissing Ezra Holtz is a hate to love coming of age contemporary, and I loved seeing both characters interact. The whole book is Amalia’s perspective, and I loved how she kept telling herself that she hates Ezra, but keeps thinking about how attractive he is and doesn’t know what to do about it. I literally squealed out loud every time this happened.
I loved how diverse the story was, but not in an “oh look at all this diversity” way, it all felt so natural (which it totally is). Amalia identifies as bisexual, and her sexuality isn’t a big deal, it’s just part of her. There is some discussion on how others see her as a slut because she has fooled around with multiple people, and because of her sexual orientation. The conversation around this was amazing, and I think it’s really important for readers to experience how others may feel based on the stereotypes we assign them.
Not only was this a love story between Ezra and Amalia, but it was a coming of age story as well. Amalia is in her senior year of high school, and is trying to figure out who she is and who she’s supposed to be once her main identifier doesn’t feel right/enough for her. Amalia considers herself an artist, and her goal in life was to be an artist. At the beginning of the story we learn that Amalia didn’t get into any of the art schools she applied to, and that makes her question herself and if she’s “good enough” to be an artist and what she’s supposed to do now that her plans changed. Throughout the book we see Amalia learn new things about herself, and I really loved reading this. I love that things didn’t go the way she planned, and we had to see her figure out what to do instead.
I think Brianna Shrum’s books are underrated, and more people need to read them, because they are so, so good! I was feeling so many emotions while reading, and even kept setting aside the book every few minutes because I did not want it to end. If you haven’t read any of Shrum’s books I highly recommend you check them out!
Let me know if you’ve read Kissing Ezra Holtz!
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