Bookishly Ever After (Ever After #1)
Everything changes when Phoebe learns that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her. So, Phoebe turns to the heroines in her favorite books for advice on a personality overhaul. Becoming as awesome as her book characters isn’t as easy as it sounds and when another girl nets Dev for herself right from under Phoebe’s nose, she’s crushed.
Then, to up the suckage, she gets assigned as his co-counselor at a sixth grade camp and has to spend an entire week tied to the hip with the one guy on the planet she wanted to avoid. Can she make it through the potential danger of romantic bonfires and nature walks without Dev figuring out she’s still not over him, or will her counseling career end in emotional disaster? Can she ever go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?
In short, pretty much everything.
Words cannot properly express how much I love Phoebe’s character in BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER by Isabel Bandeira. From the very first page, her severely bookish voice pops and never stops. Feebs is also the most painfully accurate teen girl voice I’ve read in a long time. If I had a dime for every moment I clicked with Phoebe, I would be one wealthy woman. She is the perfect representation of an ordinary high school junior. She isn’t popular, nor is she part of the overdone “loser” crowd. She’s in band. She reads books. She knits. Phoebe and her friends are kids who fall between the cracks, which is a large population of high schoolers. Phoebe’s group has the AP kid, the drama kid, the cheerleader, the guy friend, and they all come from different walks of life be it racially or socially. It’s high school! I am thoroughly impressed with the seamless relationships between Phoebe’s core group of friends and how diverse yet similar each of them are. They could all be the friends I had in high school.
Then we have the plot of the story. Phoebe develops a crush, a real life one, and has no clue how to act on it. So, she turns to the heroines of her books for advice. They are strong, determined, savvy, and know how to handle themselves in front of the swoontastic male leads. All of these things are severely lacking in Phoebe’s arsenal. She’s an uber introverted bookworm! With the help of her friends, Phoebe undergoes a makeover, takes flirt lessons from her heroines, and does everything in her power to channel the brevity of her favorite characters to get Dev’s attention. The problem is, Phoebe begins to lose the magic of what makes her so uniquely wonderful as she tries to embody someone else.
Bandeira even includes excerpts from Phoebe’s fictional reads complete with notations throughout the book. Talk about a brilliant media addition! It was a great way to see into Phoebe’s world a bit by experiencing the worlds that inspire her to brave up. And let me just say, leprechauns have never looked so good (side note: Aedan needs to be a for real fictional boyfriend!). Just sayin’.
It’s the topic of losing who you are to garner the attention of a boy that Bandeira handles so wonderfully. The author weaves a deceptively quiet tale as it takes on a huge social challenge for teens: believing your YOU isn’t good enough. I love how the struggle to keep up the façade becomes a chore for Phoebe. Taking an insta-catalog of her appearance from makeup, hair, to clothing loses its importance around those who matter the most. As it should. And the quiet way in which Phoebe discovers her true inner strength and value is nothing short of brilliant. There is nothing preachy and there is no finger pointing. It’s just a girl finding out her true YOU is her best YOU.
The only thing that didn’t sit right was the ending, but it wasn’t for the lack of anything. In fact, I felt the ending had too much. The final chapter just felt unnecessary and somewhat took away from Phoebe’s journey and what she learned. I would have been perfectly happy without the final chapter of the book. Although, the final exchange between Phoebe and Dev made me grin in the best book-crush way.
For a cozy, quietly sweet spring read with a heartwarming leading girl who is every bit as beautifully awkward as you were in high school, look no further than Bookishly Ever After. It will make you cringe, it will make you snort-laugh, and it will warm you in all the feel good places of your heart. Bandeira combines real teens with spot-on humor and BFFs of the epic kind in this smoothly paced quirky tale of a bookish girl who falls for the hottest guy in the clarinet section.
When I first heard about this book, of course I wanted to read it. It's a contemporary romance for the POV of a booknerd! I thought this book was adorable, though, sadly, it felt like your average contemporary. Just with a few more booknerdiness added.
Phoebe lives for books, and she's perfectly fine with it. But her best friends thinks that Phoebe needs a boyfriend and when it's pointed out to her that her friend Dev might like her, that's all she can think about. Using her books as reference, she tries to win Dev's heart.
I thought this book was pretty cute. I overall enjoyed the book and I was flipping the pages in hope that the two would get together. Of course there were a lot of bookish things in the book! The idea of Phoebe using books as dating advice is interesting and I liked the other bookish things as well (such as the bookish event Phoebe went to). The book also has excerpts from Phoebe's favorite books, which was interesting as well. The pacing in the book, though, was a bit slow. I felt like this book concurred a long period of time within the book and it took awhile for things to speed up. It didn't really pick up until the end, and I actually liked many parts in the last few portions of the book.
I liked Phoebe. She was sweet, shy, and relatable. I had a few issues with her as a character at times though because she felt like an impossible booknerd. She was able to remember complete paragraphs from books! And I'm not referring to the excerpts featured in the book, I mean there are times where she would start thinking about a kissing scene in her favorite book and then relate it word-for-word to us. Seriously. I love to read and I can barely even remember the names of the main characters, let alone entire paragraphs! As for other characters, they were nice too. Though her best friend upset me at times. She was always bugging Phoebe to pick up her book and date guys. I myself would hate it if someone did that to me, even if they're my best friend, because I don't want to date, I'm fine being single. I know that she has the best intentions, but I didn't like how she was forcing this onto Phoebe.
As for romance, it was cute. I liked Dev. I enjoyed how Dev and Phoebe started out as friends. I think the best relationships are when there is friendship involved. Dev wasn't your typical love interest, mainly since he was a normal guy. He wasn't the hottest thing that lived, with sparking eyes and a long line of ex-girlfriends. He was normal and I liked that about him. He was also really sweet to Phoebe and understanding of her booknerdiness.
Overall, this book wasn't as awesome as I expected. This is kind of your typical YA contemporary, just with more booknerdiness. It was cute, with a great love interest, but still a bit predictable at times and just your average contemporary. This might be part of a series, and I'm curious if there will be another book following a different couple. If that does happen, I will be interested.