Nari's friendship with Nicky, despite his being two years younger, grows while she finds herself separated from the friendship she once had with Avery. Despite being next door neighbors, she has watched him turn into someone he never was, dating the meanest girl in school, and avoiding the past he has tried to blame everyone for ever since losing Cooper.
When they find themselves thrust into situations in which they cannot avoid being together, Avery makes a deal with Nari that he'll tutor her if she'll kiss him and make his ex-girlfriend jealous. While Nari finds herself attracted to him, she tries to warn herself against doing anything with him. She knows it will all only end in upset for her. But, predictably (in a good way), she does turn to him for help, and she finds herself falling for him, despite her deep desire not to do so. And Avery, though Nari thinks he's just trying to win his girlfriend back, is falling for her, too.
Their friendship and the surprises they have in store for each other, from her being in a band to him showing her his soft side even when she doesn't want to believe it's there, are perfect fodder for the two of them becoming friends again and finding their way back to the rest of the group that got torn apart on that fateful day when they lost Cooper.
A fantastic follow-up to 'Dating My Best Friend,' and featuring cameos by the characters from that book, Peyton and Cam, among others, 'Dating the Boy Next Door' delves into the themes of friendships lost and found, empathy, and internal struggles. Both Nari and Avery have issues they need to get past in order to move on with their lives and with each other. Their ability to work through these and find their way back to each other is one of the greatest parts of the book. Even though you think you know what's coming, the reading journey is all so very worth it.