This Time It's Real

Scholastic. Feb. 2023. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338827118.
Gr 9 Up–Eliza Lin is a smart, quiet student who’s just trying to blend in at her international school. She doesn’t have many close friends, and it’s hard to make new ones because her mom’s job as a consultant for global companies means they uproot their lives every few years and move to a new country. She’s only had one friendship really stick, and the only other constant besides her family is her writing. When her English essay about a made-up boyfriend goes viral online, Eliza panics and does the only thing she can think of: ask her classmate, famous starlet Caz Song, to be her pretend boyfriend as part of a mutually beneficial agreement. It could lead to an internship with her favorite magazine for her, and polished college essays for him. But what happens when Eliza starts to develop real feelings for this complicated, adorably frustrating drama star? All her other friendships from her moves have fallen apart, and she’s worried this will, too. Liang has created a charming exploration of the “fake relationship” trope starring this lovable couple. The romance is full of tension and will have readers anticipating when the love interests will finally get together. The international school setting adds another intriguing layer.
VERDICT A great choice for fans of romantic comedies.

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