G-rated, YA, multicultural romance
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Pages: 158 pages
Source: ARC from author
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
This book also appears in the complete collection of the Warr Acres High trilogy, which is sold as the boxset, Sincerely Pen Pals.
This novel is a young adult, G-rated, multicultural romance with some light overtones of Christian fiction, since Grace’s family is Christian, and there are multiple scenes which portray the whole family praying together.
Fabio and Grace are 18-year-old, recent, high-school graduates who have been best friends since sixth grade. Grace is Chinese-American, and Fabio is Euro-American. He has been raised by his maternal grandparents since his mother did not tell her parents who his birth father is before she died in childbirth.
Early in the story, Grace gets the opportunity to go to China for a month during the summer break before Fabio and she head off to the same college together. In China, Grace will be working with preschool children in an orphanage as part of an unpaid internship which will augment her career goal of becoming an elementary teacher.
Fabio is a skilled gamer whose immediate goal is to win an upcoming, very consequential, gaming contest. First place brings with it an internship with the game-development company he most desires to work for eventually.
At the airport, just as Grace is about to enter the security line to board her plane for China, Fabio belatedly screws up his courage to make a confession of something he has felt for the entire six years they have been friends. He yells across the airport that he loves her.
Grace is in complete shock. Initially she has the classic reaction inevitably found in every “best friends become lovers” romance plot. She is convinced that she can never see Fabio as anything but a platonic friend, and is afraid that rejecting him romantically will destroy their friendship.
This is a fun, quick read with moments of laughter and sadness. Grace is a sympathetic protagonist who is a strong role model for young girls who might read this book. The scenes with Grace’s family, especially her quirky grandmother, also add a great deal to the story.
Fabio is a very sensitive, metrosexual guy who is a pleasant change from the over-abundance of alpha-male athletes in YA and adult romance. I especially appreciated experiencing his loving and supportive relationship with his lovable grandparents.
There are actually quite a few senior citizens in this story, and they contribute an adorably kooky dimension to the novel that is quite unusual for YA fiction. In addition to Grace’s grandmother and Fabio’s grandparents, his grandmother has three eccentric, female friends who are extremely fond of Fabio, and he demonstrates unashamedly that he feels the same about them.
Last but not least, the multicultural aspect of this novel adds a unique element to a classic romance plot, and descriptions of Grace’s experiences in China are quite fascinating.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 4
Multicultural Plot: 4