Better Than the Movies

S. & S. May 2021. 368p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534467620.
Gr 9 Up–Liz Buxbaum is a romantic comedy superfan. She loves the soundtracks and happy endings, of course, but most of all she loves the comfort and connection they provide after losing her mother. Navigating senior year without her mom has been tough, and all Liz wants is to end it with the perfect, rom-com–ready prom night. Lucky for her, her childhood crush has just moved back to town, but the only way to get to Michael is with the help of her detestable next-door neighbor, Wes Bennett. Though Wes has driven her crazy since they were kids, Liz has no choice but to scheme with him in order to get the happy ending she’s always imagined. As with any great romantic comedy, there are twists and turns on the path to love, and Liz must decide whether she wants the picture-perfect ending of her dreams or the one she didn’t expect. While rom-com fans will see Liz’s revelation coming a mile away, Painter makes the journey enjoyable with quippy banter, lovable characters, and enough will-they-won’t-they tension to satisfy readers. The book peppers in several nods to classic romantic comedies that die-hard fans will connect with. Liz is coded as white and Wes’s ethnicity isn’t stated.
VERDICT While not much here is fresh or surprising, the novel leans into the rom-com tropes fans know and love. Purchase this enjoyable read for collections where teen romances are popular.

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