cover image How to Excavate a Heart

How to Excavate a Heart

Jake Maia Arlow. HarperTeen, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-307872-7

Queer, Jewish Shani’s winter break is derailed by unexpected romance in this frothy enemies-to-lovers holiday rom-com by Arlow (Almost Flying). Shani is intent on leaving her disastrous first semester at college behind her. Determined not to think about how her girlfriend broke her heart, she plans to focus solely on her paleichthyology internship at the Smithsonian. That gets off to a rough start when, trying to navigate snow-laden streets, she and her mother almost run over a pedestrian with their car. Despite the hiccup, Shani dives headfirst into her internship until a dog-walking gig puts her face-to-face with Jewish May, the girl she almost ran over. Their relationship is civil at best, but when they’re snowed in together on Christmas Eve, their antagonism thaws. Even as Shani’s feelings for May grow, however, she fears taking another chance on love. This dialogue-rich narrative, told from Shani’s simultaneously biting and sincere first-person perspective, expertly conveys two romantically unconfident girls’ hesitancy to act on their feelings despite boundless chemistry. May and Shani’s clever banter, coupled with their myriad relationship ups and downs, make for a cozy and sharply funny confection. Main characters cue as white. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Nov.)