Jayden Valdez is an overachieving intellectual. Mike McGinnes is Franklin High School’s dumbest jock. Even though they barely know each other, she finds his personality repulsive and he thinks she’s got a giant stick up her you know what. Mike and Jayden are surprised and annoyed when their teacher pairs them together for Spanish tutoring. Both feel it’s a complete waste of time, since nobody could learn from a person who bugs the crap out of them. Not to mention that their reputations might be ruined if people realize what they’re doing. But it doesn’t take long for Jayden to discover that Mike has a secret—he isn’t the person he appears to be. Much to her dismay, Jayden finds 'Secret Mike' strangely attractive. And for some crazy reason, Mike is amused by Jayden’s clever insults and witty banter. Suddenly, they have a much bigger problem than their mutual disdain. What started as irritating tension is beginning to feel more like romantic tension and acting on it would be a very bad idea.
At the beginning of this book, Jayden is struggling. She’s your typical straight-A student who is failing (well if you call C failing) Spanish. She’s driven and determined, and knows her father will kill her if she doesn’t get that grade up. Because of her driven nature, Jayden tends to come off to those that don’t know her as a snob which is why when she is paired with Mike as her tutor things don’t go as planned.
Mike is an enigma, living two personas. At school, he is the dumb jock/thug wannabe. He wears chains, talks with imperfect grammar, and if I had to be around him as Jayden does, I'd probably slug him. He’s annoying. At home though and to his best friend, he’s just Mike. He’s smart, scoring insanely high on his SAT, has a high GPA, and a generally good guy. SO when Jayden discovers this, you can imagine her confusion and frustration with his two conflicting personas.
I loved the dual point of view in this book. I honestly don’t know how it would’ve worked otherwise. In getting the point of view from both characters, as the reader you understand why Mike doesn’t like Jayden and vice versa. You understand how they essentially misunderstand each other. You also get a front row seat for how they slowly fall for one another and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles they face.
Overall I loved Perfectly Misunderstood. I laughed, I teared up, I swooned. And for fans of the series, you will be happy to know that previous couples show up in this one. I personally loved seeing Cam and Bebe and Summer and Levi. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is a fan of sweet, contemporary YA romance. While this book can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend reading the series in order as there are spoilers in this book to the previous books in the series.
As time goes on, though, Jayden is surprised by how smart Mike really is and how he is giving off a presence that isn't really him. At the same time, Mike sees Jayden as annoying and more trouble than she's worth, but somehow they start to grow on each other.
The way they are bothered by each other ends up, somewhat predictably, leading to romantic tension, but the lead-up to this is well-written and creates interesting dynamics between them. It is nice to see Mike's worry about how he'll be perceived if he's found out to not be as dumb as he comes across. There is a vulnerability there that comes to a head when his secret is unraveled. Similarly, Jayden's best friend is always trying to make her realize how her words can sting, especially when it comes to Mike, and her realization that everything isn't always about her grows as the story goes on.
Robin Daniels has a variety of other books that are surely worth checking out after reading 'Perfectly Misunderstood'.