Bookish Boyfriends: Talk Nerdy to Me
Eliza Gordon-Fergus is an expert rule-follower. She has to be; her scientist parents dictate her day-to-day decisions, and forbid her from dating. Which is why she finds Curtis Cavendish maddening. He’s never punished for his class clown antics—and worse, his mischief actually masks brilliance. Like, give-Eliza-a-run-for-valedictorian brilliance.
When Eliza reads Frankenstein for English class, she’s left feeling more like an experiment than a daughter. Curtis agrees to trade her Anne of Green Gables under one condition: She has to beat him at the science fair. Eliza knows they’re supposed to be competing, but the more time they spend together, the more she realizes she’s in over her head. Because one thing’s certain about Curtis: He makes Eliza want to break all the rules.
The idea for this book series in general is super cute and a lot of fun. The author takes classics and weaves parallels through her protagonists’ lives. In TALK NERDY TO ME, Schmidt uses FRANKENSTEIN and ANNE OF GREEN GABLES as foils to one another, opposite examples of who Eliza could become. However, you don’t have to be familiar with the source material to enjoy this book. You also don’t have to be familiar with the first two books of this series, as this novel functions as a standalone as well.
What works in this book is the romance between Eliza and Curtis. I love their dates— making cupcakes, training for a marathon, practicing for academic competitions. They complement one another and push each other to be better. I also enjoy Eliza’s friendship with Merri and her family. Merri is so different from Eliza and offers a nice contrast. Merri brings the idealism to Eliza’s realism.
With that being said, I had a hard time connecting to Eliza at first, and as such, the book got off to a slow start. In fact, the pacing throughout varies. There are parts where I didn’t want to put the book down and other bits that took longer to get through— generally, that was when Eliza was closing off again. As a result, the end is less satisfying, because it takes so long for Eliza to let her guard down and confront her parents, and she gets what she wants rather easily. It made me wonder why we had to go through all that happened, when the solution was pretty simple.
That aside, TALK NERDY TO ME is perfect for avid readers who may want a contemporary story that incorporates whimsy, retellings, and coming-of-age.