book cover for Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols | Magan Reviews

book cover for Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols [twitter | website]
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 336
Target Audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: opposites attract, yearbook superlatives, sexual high school relationships
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Brody and Harper are chosen by their classmates as the “Perfect Couple That Never Was” for their high school yearbook superlative photo. Several failed attempts to take the photograph provide opportunities to escape their significant others to spend time together and leave them questioning why: Why their classmates chose them. Why they never got together before.

• • •

We’ve reviewed quite a lot of Jennifer Echols’ work here on Rather Be Reading. Her work has been something we’ve really enjoyed, but it’s something we’re both feeling a bit disconnected from lately. I decided I would give things another go with Perfect Couple, really hoping that whatever was missing from the previous books had been found again.

But I don’t really feel that way. The story lacked a believable timeline and was peppered with abrupt, out-of-nowhere sexual scenes as an attempt to make readers forget their reading woes. Decisions were made just as quickly and emotions changed with the wind. I felt jerked around and really, really wanted to enjoy Perfect Couple more because I did quite like Brody and Harper. Their story just had a few too many gaping holes to really tie everything together well.

Harper and Brody are chosen by their classmates as the school’s “Perfect Couple That Never Was” for the class yearbook. Brody is an all-star quarterback. Harper is more of the artistic type. He’s dating a gorgeous cheerleader, Grace, and she’s in a relationship with Kennedy, a jerk who demeans her and treats her like utter crap. (And is incredibly moody/PMS-y…all the time.) Both are left to wonder why their peers would have paired them together. What do they see that Brody and Harper may have overlooked?

Despite ties to their significant others, Harper and Brody find themselves drawn to one another. Often very inappropriately and with little regard to boundaries if you know what I’m saying. (If you’re not one for a cheating book, you may want to steer clear. Though I couldn’t stand Kennedy, my moral compass was screaming at their indiscretions.)  The thing is I DID root for Brody and Harper to be together; the whole opposites attract thing was very appealing. But maybe I’m a traditionalist and think that there’s a time and place for all things, and I just really wish they would have slowed down and handled things respectfully.

It’s quite possible I would have enjoyed Harper and Brody’s story more if there had been more of a slow build, if they really worked to get to know one another, and if the tension has simmered just a little more. Or maybe I didn’t connect because I have aged out of Echols’ work? I probably would have given them the stink eye more than once because their fleeting decisions made little sense to me and there was so much back-and-forth I want him, I don’t want him, I want him. The bandaid was ripped from my reading-skin a few too many times, leaving me feeling very unattached and without much left to adhere to afterward. My recommendation if you’re in the mood for a great, steamy Echols’ read is to revisit Such a Rush.

Have you ever felt like you’ve aged out of an author’s work, or
have you ever significantly changed your opinion of an author’s work?

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Estelle: He Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander

He Said She Said by Kwame AlexanderHe Said She Said by Kwame Alexander ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: November 19, 2013
Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins
Pages: 336
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: South Carolina, arts education, opposites attract, diverse YA
Format read: ARC sent to me by Jamie from Perpetual Page Turner. (Thanks!)

Summary: The last thing Claudia wants to do is be stuck working on a project with Omar “T-Diddy” Smalls, high school football player star and a guy who has been with just about every girl at their school. But when T-Diddy bets his friends he can get with Claudia, he gets involved with her latest cause: the lost of arts education in their school. Can they become friends? Will T-Diddy’s reputation with ladies be ruined? Will Claudia let her guard down? And most importantly, will they save all the extracurricular in their school by putting their heads together?

I had no idea what to expect from this book especially with a character named T-Diddy who thinks Claudia has “a butt for days.” But you know what? I laughed, I smiled, and I totally enjoyed reading He Said, She Said.

They say opposite attract but Claudia is not having any of T-Diddy’s advances and he is sure she won’t be able to resist him. Told in alternating chapters from each of their POVs, the reader is in on the innermost thoughts of Claudia and Omar (she refuses to call him T-Diddy because it’s silly). You see, Claudia is Harvard bound and doesn’t have the patience for high school boys, but when the school board cuts arts at their school and all the students respond so well to Omar’s help with the cause, she has no choice but to work with him and evoke some change. Suddenly, Omar is like… uh oh, is Claudia more than someone I want to just spend one night with?

THINGS ARE CHANGING.

He Said, She Said is definitely one of those books that shows us we shouldn’t be quick to judge people. (Even though we are all so guilty of this.) Both Omar and Claudia are surprised about what they find out about each other as they spend more time together. But nothing’s easy. Not getting closer, not bringing marching band and art back to school, and certainly not their pasts. The author integrates social media updates via Facebook and Twitter, tracking the “silent classroom” movement Omar and Claudia organize to get the school board’s attention, flirtation (a.k.a bickering) between Omar and Claudia, and a typical pinch of high school drama. This addition really speeds up the pace of the book and was a fun way to get to know these students.

Honestly, I could barely put this down without picking it back up almost immediately.

Vibrant dialogue, clever use of social media, a unique romance (that doesn’t discount individuality), and, most importantly, issues that plague our schools all the time (but I barely find in my books) were so well advocated for in He Said, She Said. I love being surprised by a book and, best of all, discovering a new writer.

I will be sure to have my eye out for Alexander’s next book.

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