Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 1/2
Classic young adult contemporary romance is like cotton candy. It’s saccharinely sweet, super cute and very fluffy. When done right, it’s a hit. When done wrong, it just doesn’t stick to the cone (aka its audience). Terrible summer metaphors aside, one of my favorite contemporary romances that I’ve read recently is P.S. I Like You by Kasie West. It was the first book I read by her and although I was skeptical from the cover and hesitant at first, I soon fell in love. This is a book you need to read this summer. Cute, smart and sharp. This book is a cutesy but very real and honest gem.
Lily hates chemistry. That is, until she begins a low-key note exchange with a boy who sits in her seat in another period. Her daily moment of peace amidst a vendetta against her best friend’s ex, her struggles as an aspiring songwriter and a hectic home life, Lily is torn whether she wants to know who her secret pen pal is and even more worried about the consequences of that discovery. Jump into this cute tale about a girl coming into her own, managing friendship and ogling at cute boys with so much heart that I couldn’t help but be swept away in it. It has friends, family and romance. There’s really no way to go wrong.
West’s cast of quirky characters make this novel. I loved Lily’s flaky, awkward character and immediately wanted to follow her along on her story. She felt like so many female protagonists I’ve read in YA (particularly by rockstar authors like Sarah Dessen and Sara Zarr), but different at the same time. She had her own quirks that made Lily herself. Still, I would’ve likes her character to be defined a bit more, as she felt rough around the edges at points. I also loved her best friend, Isabel, whose failed matchmakings were one of my favorite subplots in the book. Each of the boys-Cade, Lucas, David-all had their own personalities too and didn’t feel like flat characters, a frequent pitfall of more “chicklit” titles.
I also loved that Lily’s family was so present in this book, to the point that I wish they were in the book even more. It was nice to see a teen with a messy home life. Jonah and Wyatt, Lily’s younger brothers, were adorably mischievous and her older sister Ashley filled out the family cast well. All the scenes with the family were enjoyable, and it’s remarkable that West manages to depict so many complex relationships-with boys, friends and family in one reasonable length story.
The story itself had perfect pacing and ample suspense. It’s an easy read-perfect to read outside on a hammock or at the beach or on a long drive. Just give yourself time, because once you start, you’re going to want to finish. And my reviews are always spoiler free, but man are you going to adore this ending if you’re a hopeless romantic like me.
The notes that Lily and her secret penpal pass back and forth were fun and I looked forward to reading them whenever I saw them pop up on the next page. West took this trope and made it her own, made it something that worked with Lily’s character and didn’t feel cliché. I will note, though, that I already knew who Lily’s penpal was about eighty pages into the book. I was happy to see that I was right, though, and knowing didn’t take away from the steady build up of suspense (I may or may not have thrown the book down and shouted, “I KNEW IT!”).
The positive female friendship was an amazing part of this book, something I’m always on the lookout for in contemporary YA. I loved that they were best friends and acted like it. I loved that their trifles weren’t a major focus in the book. I only wish there was more of them in the book. Their unbreakable girl power was one of my favorite part of this story.
This book is also definitely a feel good read. I generally read books that are sad and intense, so this was a nice break from my norm. I can’t wait to check out what else West has written and maybe find a few more fluffy love stories to add to my TBR this summer. But you should all add this one, if you haven’t already.