The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig: A Love Story

352p. Disney-Hyperion. Oct. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781368009614. POP
Gr 9 Up—Readers are warned in the first pages of playwright Zolidis's YA debut that the couple doesn't end up together. Instead, Craig and Amy, who are dating in small-town Janesville, WI, in the mid-1990s, break up and get back together repetitively. The out-of-sequence breakups offer a slow-drip reveal of their problems and incompatibilities, much like Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman's Why We Broke Up. Craig is a nerdy writer who plays Dungeons and Dragons and semi-ironically idolizes Dostoyevsky, while Amy is the overachieving but insecure student body president. They meet at Youth in Government, where Craig advances comically bad legislation in desperate bids for her attention. But by the time they get together, teens already know that their love story is doomed. The story is appealingly realistic—Craig and Amy have traits that simultaneously draw them together and tear them apart. The cringe-inducing awkwardness of the first few breakups get things off to a somewhat slow start, but the book's climax offers an unexpectedly poignant and well-rounded look at the differences between being loved and being understood. Full of self-referential moments in which the author instructs readers where to flip to find the sex, and chapter titles like "How I Screwed This Up," it is also outrageously funny, with laugh-out-loud anecdotes (a hunting trip is particularly well done) in every chapter and snappy dialogue throughout.
VERDICT Full of humor and heart, this refreshingly unromantic romance is highly recommended for most collections.

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