A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck
Release Date: September 26, 2017
The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.
Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him.
Humorous and heart-wrenching, A Short History of the Girl Next Door is perfect for readers who fell in love with All the Bright Places’ Finch or Stargirl’s Leo.
Well, I cried, so well done, book, well done. You made a non book crier shed a few tears because you hit so ridiculously hard in the feels.
Only issue I had with this book: the slow beginning. Had I not known that there was going to a bit kind of twist that had me laughing one minute to crying to another, this book might have been another kind of rating. Don’t get me wrong: the beginning was enjoyable, and it is the perfect way to set up the story. However, it felt…well, a little too contemporary at times, meaning just too much everyday. And I was feeling eh. However, that is literally the only complaint I have about the book.
What I did enjoy was a lot more of this book. There were so many different categories where it wins, but where it shines the most is emotional depth, characterization, and its realness. Jared Reck has a bright and promising career in YA fiction if this is just his debut work, because I’ll certainly be picking up any of his next few books.
Let’s talk about the characters, first. I loved Matt and Tripp and Tabby. I even loved the secondary characters. Grampa and Murray killed me, and even the lovable teachers and Matt’s parents were amazingly done. I’ve not had a cast of characters this richly developed in a long time. The best part: while they interesting and different, they were also wonderfully real. They were so realistic that they felt that they could be people I know and not just these imaginary people that an author made up for fun. Matt was such an amazing character. He was heartfelt, had his share of flaws, and honest in his hurt, jealousy, and more. More than several times, I sat there and said, I would totally react that way. So relatable. And it’s so easy to see how Matt fell in love with Tabby. Such a sweetheart.
The plot was interesting. Obviously, we’re getting a few different things. We’re getting Matt in love with his best friend, trying to adjust to life as a rising basketball star, and a newcomer in his relationship with Tabby. Then comes along a giant twist that took this book in a whole different reaction. I had a few guesses at what the plot would eventually be, but things still took me by surprise, and I found myself absolutely astounded at where Reck took it. It was brilliant (even though I had misty eyes for a ridiculously long time – thanks there, Mr. Reck D:).
Obviously, emotional depth was key to this story, and Reck does it well. I don’t cry in books. I’ve read books that people said that they’ve sobbed over, and I sat there as dried eyes as the desert. This book…this book gave me some majorly watery eyes, and I kind of hate it a bit because it ruined my heartless book reading skills. Wow, this packed an emotional punch, and it ruined my feels for a bit because it totally killed them.
Overall, this was a wonderfully done book that was skilled in so many ways. It has so much heart and emotion that I can’t even deal. Its characters are brilliant and real, and it twists and turns on you. The only issue was the slow beginning, but once you get past that, it’s wonderful. Four brilliant stars for this book (so, so close to being a 4.5), and an Anna rating for the laughs and Tabby’s red hair (and because I totally pictured Tabby as Anna, just saying)!