All Our Worst Ideas

­Feiwel & Friends/Swoon Reads. Aug. 2020. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250195425.
Gr 8 Up–Two teens on opposite trajectories meet each other halfway through a common bond: music. Oliver has clerked at Spirits, a record store, long enough for it to feel like home and teach him the value of meaningful work. He’s going to open his own record store one day; college is not part of the plan. Enter Amy—preoccupied with scholarship applications and maintaining a 4.0 GPA—who finds a part-time job at Spirits when she’s asked to help with family finances. She loves the store as a customer, and decides to just go for it; it’s a rare spontaneous move for Amy, and it opens her up emotionally. At work, Oliver and Amy spar over Top 10 lists and engage in a friendly contest to see who can win over whom with a favorite band or track, while shy Oliver surprises himself by singing the Cure classic “Friday I’m in Love” at karaoke night. At school, when Amy stumbles on a calculus test, it’s Petra, her competition for valedictorian, who surprises her by offering to tutor her, challenging the mean girl stereotype. “I’m not interested in winning against someone who isn’t even trying,” she explains. The academic stress on high achievers is thus refreshingly relieved by two teenagers who respect each other.
VERDICT A contemporary love story that goes deeper than most, exposing teen angst in its many hiding places with believable characters and situations. Recommended for all collections.

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