Friday, May 27, 2022

‘She Gets The Girl’ Review: Will These Enemies Become Lovers?

Too few young adult books choose to spend time in the confusing melting pot that is college. Sure, high school is fun with its homecoming queens and promposals, but learning to navigate life on your own for the first time comes with its own set of problems and bigger stakes. She Gets The Girl is the rare YA novel targeting post-high school life, and it does so brilliantly. Written by real-life partners Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick, She Gets The Girl is a queer romance centered on the girl with all the right moves and the gawky wallflower she takes under her wing.

Alex Blackwood is effortlessly cool. She’s great at flirting and has no problem with confidence, but her commitment issues keep her on-again, off-again girlfriend Natalie from taking her seriously. Molly Walker is a sheltered teenager who nursed a secret crush on popular girl Cora for all four years of high school. When Molly winds up at the same college as Cora, she decides this is her chance to be bold and go after the girl of her dreams … if only her social awkwardness wasn’t holding her back. To prove to Natalie that she can be a selfless friend (not just a flirt looking for an easy hook up), Alex volunteers to help Molly in her quest to win Cora’s heart after Molly’s initial efforts go awry. The two don’t mix well at first, though their mutual dislike soon turns to genuine friendship. But could their newfound relationship become something more?

Anyone who’s seen even one 90s romcom knows how this story ends. But the journey to get there is entertaining and a unique spin on the genre. Both Alex and Molly have hidden depths that are gradually revealed over the course of the story. Molly struggles with memories of racist bullying for her Korean heritage while Alex hides her dysfunctional home life with her mother, who struggles with alcoholism. The authors aren’t afraid to make both girls a bit unlikeable to start, and it only makes their growth arcs stronger. The romance between them is a true slow burn in a way that many young adult romances are afraid to tackle. Alex and Molly don’t have one scene of vague dislike followed by an immediate connection; their feelings develop organically over the course of the narrative and take a while to resolve. She Gets The Girl is written in dual POV, which also strengthens the romance for the reader and is a fun storytelling choice.

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But while the romance of She Gets The Girl is the clear focus of the story, I found the novel’s depiction of college life to be incredibly accurate and surprisingly moving. Living away from home for the first time brings with it a host of complicated feelings that are fully explored for Alex, Molly, and their friends. There’s also plenty of hilarity involved, but I appreciated that the authors did not downplay the struggles that come with going away to school and trying on new versions of yourself.

It was also a bold decision to write and market this book as YA when it likely would have sold well as a New Adult novel with a few spicier scenes added. That choice makes She Gets The Girl a perfect choice for teens looking for a book that discusses more adult topics without an increased focus on sex scenes. While plenty of college age readers are looking for sexier reads, there are also many who don’t find them appealing but still want to read a fun romance. She Gets The Girl is perfect for those readers.

She Gets The Girl is an excellent addition to the LGBTQIA+ enemies-to-lovers canon (with a dash of an old school makeover romcom to boot). It is available now wherever books are sold.

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