cover image fml


Shaun David Hutchinson. Simon Pulse, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4424-3287-1

Pity 17-year-old Simon Cross: he’s spent his high school years pining for gorgeous Cassie Castillo and, apart from one confusing date, she’s remained out of reach. But now Cassie is single, not acting like herself, and throwing a rager of a party. Reluctantly helped by his best-friends-turned-boyfriends, Coop and Ben, Simon is determined to kiss Cassie and reveal his feelings for her. Hutch-inson (The Deathday Letter) splits the alcohol-drenched evening into two alternating narratives. One, labeled “Living the Dream,” casts Simon as a quasi-heroic figure, facing school bullies and jerks (and Cassie’s ex) as he pursues her; in the other, “Reality Bites,” Simon meets a quirky girl named Stella who helps him plot his kiss. Hutchinson doesn’t push the differences between Simon’s real and imagined versions of the party all that far, and it can be difficult to track which conversations and misadventures take place where. The raucous party antics and bawdy banter provide laughs, but the overlap between the threads somewhat defeats the purpose of the conceit, as both paths basically result in the same outcomes and realizations, albeit in different ways. Ages 14–up. (June)