You Bet Your Heart

Random/Joy Revolution. Jun. 2023. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593565278.
Gr 8 Up–Sasha Johnson-Sun has spent her high school years relentlessly pursuing her goals. She is convinced that her single-minded focus will help her achieve the success she needs to honor her father, whose premature death devastated her, and her mother, who gave up her own dreams to take care of Sasha. The teen seems poised to get everything she wants—namely, the title of valedictorian and the generous scholarship that comes with it. Then Sasha receives shocking news; she is tied for valedictorian with another student—her ex-best friend, Ezra Davis-Goldberg. Sasha doesn’t want to wait until the end of the year for this matter to be settled, so she proposes a bet: three academic challenges, after which the loser agrees to intentionally bomb an assignment, ensuring a clear path to valedictorian for the winner. As Sasha and Ezra reconnect during this competition, Sasha has to deal with an unfamiliar feeling: attraction. As Sasha’s feelings for Ezra grow, she’ll have to come to terms with what she really wants for herself, her relationships, and her future. While romance is at the core of this story, Sasha’s two best friends are well-developed secondary characters, and her interactions with them make the story even more robust. The descriptive language, particularly regarding Sasha and Ezra’s relationship, immerses readers in the romantic moments of the story. Sasha is biracial Black and Korean, and Ezra is Black and Jewish.
VERDICT Hand to readers who enjoy other academic rivals-to-love stories such as Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach and The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson.

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