Good Morning, Book Nerds!
As y’all know from my Jane Anonymous review, I was very fortunate to start this year with a handful of highly anticipated ARCs that released this week. Today I’m bringing you my review of this super sweet, You’ve Got Mail-channeling contemporary.
How To Speak Boy by Tiana Smith
Title & Author: How To Speak Boy by Tiana Smith
Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Series Details: Standalone
Page Count: 288 pages
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟.5 Stars
Opening Line: “Pantyhose were invented by the devil. This is a well-known fact.”
*Click links above for full synopsis and purchasing options*
Thank you so much to Swoon Reads for providing an earc of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
“…strange, how easy it was to talk to a perfect stranger. Like, by not knowing who he was, I could tell him anything…Anonymity made me bold.”
Set in Boise, Idaho, How To Speak Boy, is a YA romance centered around a pair of feuding speech competitors throughout their senior year of high school.
Seventeen year old Quinn Edwards wants nothing more than to beat Grayson Hawks at his own game. Scratch that. She wants to beat him at every game. Whether it’s the coveted captain position on their speech and debate team, or coming in first at all of their tournaments, Quinn wants it all. Especially if it’s at Grayson’s expense. Grayson, however, seems to take it (it being Quinn’s animosity) in stride:
“I’m on your bad side simply for being good at what I do. You take it personally. But it’s not personal, I promise.”
This uneven enemies-to-lovers balance is the first thing that made this contemporary feel a little bit off. It’s hard to root for Quinn when she’s consistently at Grayson’s throat for no apparent reason. A job that becomes increasingly challenging given how charismatic Smith made Grayson’s character. I mean his personality and swagger practically drip off the page. You’ll be helpless to his charms, dear readers. Fortunately, this imbalance is quickly rectified by the introduction of the letters between the mysterious 15511 and 15211.
You see, after a graded school assignment is accidentally put in Quinn’s cubbie (15511) she has to return it to its proper owner, whom she only knows as the school ID number listed on the page (15211). Returning the misplaced assignment to its proper cubbie, Quinn leaves a note asking for her own assignment back from this unknown peer. This sparks a chain of back-and-forth banter that really elevates the book’s game.
The mystery element is — at times — odd given that the “reveal” is provided in the synopsis of the novel. I mean obviously the characters don’t know so it works, but I feel like this is probably a detail that should have been cut or edited differently in the summary so that we can experience this right along with the MCs.
Minor issues aside this was still a light and fun read. The scenes at the tournaments flashed me right back to my own days as a teenager on the high school debate team. And while adult me wanted to cringe at the misunderstandings and misread signals that take place throughout this novel, young me understood it because I lived it. We all did. It’s this relatability and connection that always keep me coming back to books like this one.
While it wasn’t without its flaws (and a major douche side character), I quite enjoyed watching Quinn learn How To Speak Boy.