The Girl Next Door

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. May 2023. 368p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063285873.
Gr 9 Up–High school couple Cleo and Daniel had their lives planned out: direct the school’s soap opera Dazed at Murrow Creek, get into NYU’s film program, and move to LA after college to make it big in the movie world. But their plans are thrown off course when Kiki, Daniel’s summer fling, enters the picture and steals his heart. Determined to stick to the plan, Cleo reaches out to Kiki’s ex-girlfriend and former BFF Marianne to fake date and realign the stars. Set in North Carolina, this romantic comedy follows a cast of high school students who are comfortable in their sexual orientations. Kiki and Cleo are both bisexual, Marianne and their friend Chris are gay, and the characters are represented in a lighthearted way. The story explores the chaos that ensues when relationships get complicated with exes and by feelings. Marianne is noted to be diagnosed with anxiety and OCD, although traits of these are rarely mentioned. This fast-paced story is highly character driven and includes a nod to fans of horror movies.
VERDICT Solid choice for fans of Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper and Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

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