The Charmed List

Wednesday Bks. Jul. 2022. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250830098.
Gr 9 Up–Ellie Kobata has been looking forward to her road trip for months, driving from Palo Alto to the California Magical Retailers’ Convention where magical merchants like Ellie’s parents can showcase their wares. Traveling with non-magic-aware best friend Lia poses some challenges, but Ellie is used to keeping magical secrets. She is excited to have Lia’s help knocking items off her Anti-Wallflower List which Ellie hopes will be able to change her quiet girl persona at school into someone more interesting to her classmates and herself. Ellie’s high hopes for the trip are dashed when item four—getting revenge on her ex-best-friend Jack Yasuda—goes horribly wrong, leaving Ellie grounded for the foreseeable future, in a fight with Lia, and, worst of all, driving to the convention with Jack. With so many disasters, Ellie’s list is starting to feel as if it might be cursed, but as Ellie and Jack are forced to spend time together, they might also have the chance to rehab their friendship and maybe even check off some other items—like dancing under the stars and falling in love. Abe’s YA debut is a delightful standalone filled with romance and magic. Artist Ellie’s initially prickly narration will win readers over as she explains details of her magic-aware world. Ellie is Japanese American; Jack is biracial Italian American and Japanese American.
VERDICT Fans of the romance genre will recognize tropes including hate-to-love, there’s only one bed, and more in this cozy and engrossing story about second chances and new beginnings.

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