FICTION

10 Blind Dates

Disney-Hyperion. Oct. 2019. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781368027496.
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Gr 9 Up–Seventeen-year-old Sophie is looking forward to spending Christmas with her boyfriend Griffin, until she overhears him at a party telling one of his friends that he wants to break up with her. Since her parents are taking care of her pregnant older sister (who has superimposed preeclampsia) over the holidays, Sophie heads to her grandparents’ house in Shreveport, LA to lick her wounds. But her big, boisterous Italian-American family has its own ideas about what Sophie needs. Instead of peace and quiet, she is subjected to a series of 10 blind dates between December 20th and New Year’s Eve, each orchestrated by a different member of her family. The dates range from fun (an exclusive, edgy Christmas party) to kooky (a “living nativity” where Sophie plays Mary, complete with live baby) to downright awkward (a drive-in theater screening porn), but as Sophie meets a range of boys, she also develops rich new bonds with the family members who are setting up the dates. While the premise will attract readers seeking a fluffy holiday romance, the characters have limited depth, the dialogue is bland, and the plot is entirely predictable. Its most satisfying moments focus not on Sophie’s romantic trajectory but on her anxious, heartfelt relationship with her older sister and her preemie niece.
VERDICT The literary equivalent of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie, this book is likely to find an audience despite its weaknesses. Readers seeking a holiday romance would be better served by Cynthia Hand’s The Afterlife of Holly Chase or Stephanie Kate Strohm’s Prince in Disguise.

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