One thing I love about Young Adult fiction is its ability to tackle weighty and sometimes dark issues with quite a touch, and even throw some humour into situations that might otherwise be too depressing to read about. In this case, two teens are thrown together by overlapping property boundaries and soon learn that neither has the perfect home life they had previously envied. At the same time, each of them is able to learn from the other’s situation and find ways to deal with their own.
Nina Barnes and her mother are living in rented accommodations, thanks to Nina’s bigamist father revealing the existence of his other wife and family. Their house shares a driveway and back garden with that of their landlord, whose son is one of the most fancied guys in Nina’s year at school. The shared access comes with complications, of course, not least being that the landlord has exacting specifications as to how close to the drive’s centre any of the car owners can park. When West, the landlord’s son, calls round to ask Nina to move her car before his father comes home, unexpected visitors to both houses result in the pair agreeing to attend a Valentine’s dance together. Not that they’re dating, or anything…
Further parking complications result in Nina and West having to share rides to school, and thus getting to know each other better. Nina is delighted to learn that West is as avid a reader as she is, and almost as much of a Harry Potter fan to boot. They differ, however, in their choice of reading media – Nina has hardbacks, paperbacks, and eBooks of all her favourites, whereas West reads only on his phone – and in their opinions on memorabilia – Nina collects anything Harry Potter related, while West avoids any unnecessary clutter in his life. And their big clash of opinions comes when the local library is threatened with being turned into a recycling centre: Nina is devastated at the loss of access to physical books, whereas West revels in the idea that more items will be saved from going to landfill.
The pair set up opposing campaigns to ensure that the library’s fate is destined in the manner they would prefer, but through adversity the pair become closer, and Nina learns West’s big family secret that underpins all his attitudes to (in his opinion) useless clutter.
I loved the way this book tackled the stigma and shame that gets attached to certain manifestations of mental health problems, particularly those that can be hidden within a family. I was also very taken with the ways in which Nina tries to help West and his parents, while he tries to understand, and cope with, her more chaotic and ultimately more welcoming family setup. Not a perfect book, but a very charming one nonetheless, and a good introduction to an author and series I plan to investigate further.
Nina Barnes thinks Valentine’s Day should be optional. That way single people like her wouldn’t be subjected to kissy Cupids all over the place. That is, until her mom moves them next door to the brooding hottie of Greenbrier High, West Smith. He’s funny, looks amazing in a black leather jacket, and he’s fluent in Harry Potter, but she’s not sure he’s boyfriend material.
West isn’t sure what to make of Nina. She’s cute and loves to read as much as he does, but she seems to need to debate everything and she has a pathological insistence on telling the truth. And West doesn’t exactly know how to handle that, since his entire life is a carefully constructed secret. Dating the girl next door could be a ton of fun, but only if Nina never finds out the truth about his home life. It’s one secret that could bring them together or rip them apart.
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is not for anyone who has to get in the last word, but it is for all book nerds, especially those who live next door to so called unapproachable gorgeous guys. There’s no debating the chemistry.
Read an excerpt.