I always found it interesting to read books where the main character lives in one country for most of her life before flying across the world and restarting her life in a completely different country. This story follows seventeen-year-old Eliza Lin and her struggling to fit in her new international school in Beijing. She has little to no friends that her family and even her teachers are concerned about her fitting in. But then, Eliza’s essay about finding the love of her life becomes an overnight sensation and suddenly everyone in her school is noticing her. There is only one problem: Eliza does not have a partner. She has never had a boyfriend before. So, in order to hide her secret, Eliza strikes up a deal with the infamous Caz Song, a famous actor and charming classmate. She promises to write his college applications if he poses as her fake boyfriend for a while. This fake dating definitely will work out with have absolutely zero consequences!
Ann Liang is exceptional with how she crafts her characters and allowing the voice of Eliza come through. Eliza may have started out as the odd-girl-out, but she isn’t without her sarcastic charisma. She is incredibly smart in her own way and is clearly an amazing writer herself if she managed to convince the entire student body that she had a boyfriend. Caz is also a very interesting character to read. He is the model of the popular bad boy with his luck with ladies and his motorcycle. What I like about their relationship, even though it is supposed to be fake, the feelings are real, at least from Eliza’s point of view. Liang does no shy away from letting Eliza crush on this bad boy. She is still cautious and clear with her boundaries with Caz is a concept I have never seen before in YA books.
This book might have a small cast, but I simply adore Eliza’s family, especially her younger sister, Emily. She reminds me so much of those younger siblings that will rat you out to your parents if you do not tell them your secrets.
Overall, it was a delight to read Ann Liang’s novel. I may not be a cynic who needs to be convinced that love still exists, but I do hope that those who claim to be hopeless romantics would change their minds after reading this book.