April 6, 2013

Title: How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend

Author: Allyson Valentine

Published: June 13, 2013

Publisher: Philomel/Penguin

Pages: 304

Goodreads Summary: A funny and smart romantic comedy about getting the guy. . . and finding yourself.

Sophomore Nora Fulbright is the most talented and popular new cheerleader on the Riverbend High cheer squad. Never mind that she used to be queen of the nerds—a chess prodigy who answered every question first, aced every test and repelled friends at every turn—because this year, Nora is determined to fully transition from social pupa to full blown butterfly, even if it means dumbing down her entire schedule. But when funny, sweet and very cute Adam moves to town and steals Nora’s heart with his untra-smarts and illegally cute dimple, Nora has a problem. How can she prove to him that she’s not a complete airhead? Nora devises a seemingly simple plan to barter her way into Adam’s classes that involves her classmates, friends—and her older brother Phil’s award-winning AP history paper. But soon, Nora can barely keep track of her trades, and struggles to stay in control of her image.

In the end, the only thing that can save Nora is a chess tournament—that she has to compete in wearing her cheerleading uniform. Can she prove to everyone that she can be both a butterfly and a nerd?

Allyson Valentine has created a story so full of enamoring characters, pitch-perfect humor, and delightfully frustrating romance that it will leave you cheering.  Great for fans of Stephanie Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss, Susanne Colosanti and Sarah Dessen.

  • Christina liked this book, it goes on her third shelf.

**Special Note:** My KP, Stacee from the wonderfully fabulous Adventures of a Book Junkie, let me borrow her ARC of this title. All quotes and opinions will be of this version and not from the published edition. 

 Actual Rating of 3.5 stars!

The Lowdown: Nora Fullbright is from a family who happens to be highly intelligent. Her dad is a professor at MIT, her mom’s a hardcore feminist and professor of women’s studies, her  stepfather is a calculus teacher, her brother is rocking a 4.0 at Harvard majoring in pre-med, and even her littlest brother is enrolled at a gifted kindergarten. Nora realizes that after enrolling at Riverbend High School last year and joining the cheerleading squad this year that she wants much more from her high school experience than being known for her mind, especially after observing her older brother suffer in lonersville with his two nerdcore friends because of his academics. She’s suffered the life of a deemed teacher’s pet brainiac in her old school and she’s hoping to bust out of her nerd shell and fully embrace the life of a social butterfly from now on.

After having dumbed down her schedule from AP classes to regular courses, Nora feels like she’s well on her way to taking her role as a normal student. That is until she’s met headfirst by Adam, or rather by the soccer ball that Adam kicked directly at her head by accident. They have an instant connection and Nora decides her new mission is to get his attention, which is apparently hard to do when he’s in all the advanced classes she just dropped from her schedule. Not only that, but she’s gotten noticed from the hottie football player that any girl in the school would love to have vying for her attention. So, what’s a girl to do when she wants to have brains for a boy and popularity for social status? Is there a chance she can find the line to straddle so that she can have both?

My Thoughts: Oh. Me.

I really wanted to love this book (I mean, the premise and the book cover, I thought perfect.), but I just can’t. Part of me really liked this story because I thought it could resonate with a lot of teenage girls because Nora is a personable character they could relate to on a certain level.  While in high school I never would have done anything as foolish as dumbing myself down for other’s to notice me or to “fit in,” I certainly know girls who did. I did, however, do really stupid things for guys. Oh, to know what I know now. But I digress…

I really enjoyed the characters (Joshie, the little brother, was my absolute favorite.) and watching them all grow and struggle and experience triumphs throughout the story, especially Nora. While her actions frustrated me to the moon and back, I could appreciate her perspective and want to commend Ms. Allyson for staying true to that teenage voice. I would have liked to have seen Nora find herself sooner and to not have done it because of other people, but ultimately I can be satisfied with how the story evolved and why it was shaped the way it was.
All that being said, it was my frustration with Nora that lowered the rating for me. Good gravy, did I have the urge to shake the ever-loving hell out of this girl?! I wanted to try and be objective about her story, but it’s so difficult because I felt like her actions and the repetition of situations she kept finding herself in was playing on loop. It was like her best friend stated, ” Wow. For a smart girl you’ve had a pretty solid run of stupid.” And that quote perfectly sums it up. She was smart and determined, but boy-oh-boy did she make some really stupid decisions.

This book was cute and fun, but I think it would definitely have more appeal for the 12-18 year old age range. 

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