A Sweet YA Romantic Comedy
JUST FRIENDS by Dyan Sheldon is a sweet YA romantic comedy featuring Josh Shine, a music-loving, ponytailed, chess-playing, short high school student who falls for new girl Jena Capistrano the first time he sees her. By happy coincidence, Jena lives across the street from Josh's long-time friend, Ramona, so Josh actually gets to meet and talk to Jena even though she has been embraced by the popular crowd--a group that wants nothing to do with Josh and his equally geeky friends.
JUST FRIENDS chronicles the time from Josh's first glimpse of Jena on the first day of school through the spring of that school year. In typical crush fashion, Josh bends over backwards to be the friend that Jena needs while trying to figure out how to tell her that he more than likes her... he LIKES her. Josh's focus on Jena causes a strain on his other friendships, and his core group is more patient than he may deserve.
Many of the characters in the book are the same as others you'll find in a host of storylines focused on high school. There's the jock, the mean-but-popular girl, the flaky parents, the concerned mom, and the close group of nerds. None of these stereotypes are fleshed out enough to feel real, but Josh is wonderfully quirky and witty at his best, and he more than makes up for the hollowness of his friends. I would have in particular liked to spend more time with Ramona--I was always sad when she left the page. Equally disappointing is the fact that the amazingly good times that Ramona and Josh have shared are referenced a lot, but they are only references.
Though the outcome of JUST FRIENDS is predictable, it is a light, fun read, and Josh's kindness and humor will appeal to fans of teen romance. My thanks to YA Books Central and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
A light, fun read