One party. One accident. Six lives changed forever. Nari Won Song isn’t the girl anyone expects her to be. To her classmates she’s the nerd. To her parents, she is the quiet daughter who always does as she’s told. And the popular boy next door? The one who was once her best friend. Well, to him she doesn’t exist at all. Yet, the weekends are her saviors. Only then does she step from the shadows to show who she’s become since the accident that changed all of them forever. And who is she? A rock star. Avery St. Germaine is one of the pretty people. The golden elite of Twin Rivers High. As the talented son of NFL Hall of Famer, Grayson St. Germaine, the world is Avery’s oyster. And he doesn’t want any part of it. Avery’s best friend died in a tragic accident almost two years ago, and since then, Avery has avoided everything from his old life. But recent events have him emerging from the fog of his mourning, and he isn’t proud of the person he’s become. Breaking up with Meghan Lewis is the best decision he’s made in a long time, but in the aftermath, Avery has become her pathetic cast off, and he’s determined to show her and everyone else he’s a better man without her. But Avery’s not ready for a real relationship. Can he convince the girl next door to be his fake girlfriend?
The N WordFeatured
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.
The whole story was so heartfelt. While I could directly relate to the two big issues in the first book, I could still relate to this book as well. No, I’m not a secret rock star, but I have always struggled to figure out who I am and where I fit in. Depending on who I am with, I tend to change my personality. I know this is a common occurrence, but in high school and my first attempt at college, it was extreme in my case. I often felt like two different people, which is what Nari struggles with throughout this book. Plus, like her, I don’t cuss. Every time they tease her for saying “I’m a poop” or something makes me laugh because it is 100% me.
Avery, on the other hand, is rude and popular, but deep down he’s still the sweet guy Nari grew up with. His tough exterior comes from his internal struggle with the accident, as well as dealing with an alcoholic father who expects too much from him. I have a huge soft spot for characters like this, and I always will.
Then there are the new characters: Becks, Nicky, and Wylder. We don’t get to know Wylder super well, but the other two are in the story quite a bit. Nicky is Avery’s younger brother, and Becks is Avery’s best friend. Both are wonderful characters, whom I love with all my heart. In fact, Becks is now my favorite character in the series. He’s a popular football player, but he’s nice to everyone and funny. I want more about him!
The N Word was very well written. Like the first book, it felt very real and everything was paced well. I really love the dual point of views in this series. It gives a great look into both characters.
I am absolutely loving this series and cannot wait for more. I just really need a Becks book in my life… but until then, I’ll be reading about Julian and Addison next in The C Word, which releases this week (July 11, 2019)!
*Full original review on Functionally Fictional.*
- Realistic, relatable issues
- Well written and easy to read
When Avery gets sick of Meghan's antics, he dumps her, but is surprised when she immediately starts dating another guy. To make her jealous, Avery enlists Nari's help. A kiss for tutor sessions. But things don't go as expected, and Nari and Avery have to come up with a new plan, mostly with Avery's insistence.
After reading The F Word, I was so excited to see Nari getting her own book. Nari's character is quiet and reserved, but she has a secret identity as a band member. I love that little added bonus. Avery is insufferable in the beginning, but I was expecting that from what I saw in The F Word. Also as expected, he grows on you. Nari and Avery are made for each other and I love watching their relationship grow. I also have to say that I love Becks. He better get a story too!
Final Verdict: I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance, grieving and overcoming loss, and real characters with real problems that many can relate to.
First and foremost, Beck. I loves me some Beck. I want a Beck story, and now. Watching Avery come to terms with this relationships with his family, himself, and those around him in the wake of this tragedy and his best friend's fall from hero status was heart wrenching and beautiful. I love the shifting dynamics with his brother and the way you gently begin to see how much better he is than even he believes.
What left me wanting more:
If I had one small complaint, it would be that Nari's problems are somewhat distant and largely self made, somewhat lessening the impact of her storyline. Her relationship with Avery more than made up for that minor blip, but it was his scenes in her point of view that kept the pace moving along.
The Bottom Line:
This installment tackled real issues and the fallibility of humanity in the same vein as The F Word. It's real and gritty and endlessly entertaining.
At Twin Rivers High (like in most schools), stereotypes abound. People are judged on their appearances, and that label sticks no matter how untrue it is. Take Nari Won Song - born to Korean parents, wears thick glasses, is quiet and shy ... well, she must be NERD right? She's smart and is great at math and doesn't have a cool bone in her body. Avery is still covering emotionally from a devastating accident that claimed the life of his bast friend. His alcoholic father is tearing his family apart, and he is less and less convinced that being a football hero is his path in life. He convinces Nari to be his "fake girlfriend" to make his bitchy ex Meghan jealous, but this is a smokescreen - he wants to rebuild a friendship he once had with Nari, maybe turn it into something beautiful.
What I loved:
Pretty uch everything. Nari is a wonderful haracter, and instantly relatable. Avery is sympathetic if not very likable (at least at first), and they are a completely mismatched couple. They shouldn't work together as a couple - fake or real - but somehow they do. As teens are wont to do, many mistakes are made, but you never stop rooting for them. That's a testament to the depth of these characters.
What I didn't love:
Can't think of a thing.
This is exactly the kind of book (and series) that teens and kids should read. Stereotypes exist for a reason (anyone who's watched The Breakfast Club in the last three decades knows this), and any book that shines a light on this tendency - or better, blasts it to smithereens - is worth your time. When two brilliant authors get together to tell a story like this, it needs to be read.