This young adult book will especially appeal to book bloggers.
Halle Levitt, using the pseudonym Kels Roth, has been blogging about books and cupcakes since she was 14. (The cupcakes she makes and features on her blog are coordinated to match the cover of every book she features.) She chose a pseudonym because her grandmother (“Grams”) is prominent in the editing world, and she wanted to see if she could be successful on her own as a publicist.
Her blog, called “One True Cupcake,” and its accompanying twitter feed, become quite popular, and Halle-as-Kels makes a number of close virtual friends. Her best online friend is Nash Stevens, who creates weekly web comics on his own blog, “Outside the Lines.”
After Halle’s grandmother dies, Halle, 17, and her younger brother Oliver (“Ollie”), 15, move in with their grandpa (“Gramps”) in Middleton, Connecticut. It will not only help Gramps not to be alone, but Halle and Ollie’s parents, prize-winning documentary makers, need to go off to Israel to research their latest project. Halle and Ollie start high school in Middleton and Halle is shocked to discover she is actually at the same school as Nash.
Online, writing as Kels, Halle feels so much more confident than she does in real life (or “IRL” as Halle is wont to say). Kels “always knows exactly what to say,” whereas Halle is more apt to blurt out the wrong thing at the wrong time. Thus when Halle meets Nash she is loathe to reveal her identity to him, lest he decides he doesn’t like her. She thinks: “I can’t jeopardize Kels’s friendship with Nash. I won’t. I don’t know how to friendship IRL.” [Indeed, Halle isn’t wrong about that.]
Even while getting to know Nash better at school, she continues to text back and forth with him as Kels.
It’s easy to see where this plot line is going, but it’s an entertaining journey nevertheless.
Evaluation: Halle is quite self-absorbed, but she grows – a bit – over the course of the story. Also, while in Connecticut, Halle and Ollie learn about their Jewish roots, which their parents, always on the road, never really were able to help them explore. It is one of the few young adult books I can think of with contemporary Jewish characters and an explanation for readers about what that means.
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2020