Ah, parents. Do any of us get it right? Add a layer of different cultural expectations, and modern teens just have even more to rail against. Anne and Simone are both smart, thoughtful girls who understand why their parents put strictures on their behavior, but still feel that these are unnecessary. I like that Simone does not plan to do anything that's bad for her, just things with which her parents disagree. That she finds like minded friends in Amita and Kira is quite fun, and outspoken cousin Gabby is a good foil. The New Jersey/New York Metropolitan area setting (is that the term?) is well described, although I could have used street names so I could have looked up the areas on Zillow! Both Gavin and Ben are good guys who care about Simone and understand the parental pressures she faces. I especially appreciated that the guy who did NOT go to prom with Simone was given his own romantic interest instead of just being ignored. Middle school students are enthralled with the idea of prom, and this was a great book to give them some insight on issues high schoolers can face when contemplating the event themselves. Sort of like an Emery's Sally and Jean Burnaby for the new millenium!
This is a great choice for fans of Kasey West, or Sarah Dessen, or Watson's Love is a Revolution, and Richardson's The Meet-Cute Project. It's great to see these romantic "beach reads" with more cultural connections and settings that are quite different from the suburban Ohio ones my readers inhabit, especially ones that are more middle school appropriate when it comes to language and situations. Even as an adult, I don't like to read about alcohol and drug use or descriptive... physical situations. I loved Rigaud's 2009 Perfect Shot and hope to see more books by her soon!