This book really captures the true essence of senior year— the stress and almost paranoia of picking the “right” school, the ad nauseum talks about the future, growing and learning more about yourself, finding gratitude for the things you once found annoying, grappling with timing, and so much more. Hall captures all of that on these pages, and as a former AP and TV production student, I related to both characters on a very cellular level. That being said, there are so many messages in this book I wish I understood when I was their age. To start, I love how Hall shows it’s okay to do less. There is so much pressure on everyone to constantly be producing, particularly in the USA, and even more specifically in high school. It’s not healthy, and it’s exactly what Hayley has to contend with throughout this story. I also love the reminder that a couple of uncomfortable conversations can quickly solve a problem.
Beyond that, there are some elements of the story that needed more motivation or didn’t make sense to me, such as Hayley bringing a flask to school. I do get that she was trying to “be the pond scum,” but it felt more necessary for the plot than something she might actually do. That being said, I was happy to let go of those moments and go along for ride. Hall infuses a lot of humor throughout the story, particularly through Lewis, which makes the dialogue really fun and witty.
Overall, KIND OF SORT OF FINE is the perfect gift for those preparing to be seniors in either high school or college, or for those who are newly graduated. It’s a good reminder that what they’re going through or going to go through is normal, and they’re going to figure it all out in time.