Summary (from the publisher):
There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.
He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…
Except who she really is.
Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.
That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.
Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.
If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
I firmly believe that What I Like About You is the YA contemporary meant for my bookish soul. Main character who shares the same name as me (albeit, spelled differently from yours truly), blogs about YA books, loves books and baking, and dreams of a job where she can share her love for books? Marisa Kanter’s debut novel literally has made my bookish dreams come true in the best way possible- in the cutest YA contemporary book that is!
What I Like About You follows high school senior Halle Levitt. By day, Halle is adjusting to spending her senior year in Connecticut and dreams of getting into NYU and landing a job in publishing. But by laptop and phone screen, Halle is Kels, the creator and blogger behind One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs YA book covers with cupcakes. Halle loves just about everything about One True Pastry, but especially loves talking to Nash, fellow blogger and her online best friend. Things get extremely complicated for Halle IRL when she meets Nash face-to-face at her new school and must figure out how – and if – she’ll reveal herself as Kels to him.
What I Like About You is my favorite bookish YA contemporary. I have no problem at all relating to nearly any character who loves books or books that take place in a bookish setting like a library or bookstore. However, What I Like You steps up the bookish book game up so much for featuring a protagonist that runs a book blog. Halle’s platform is absolutely huge, but I was able to relate to her so much for not only her love of books and turning said love into a bookish career, but really having to balance blogging with IRL things like family and school. From drafting and editing posts to checking emails to scrolling through Twitter, blogging definitely takes a lot of time and I loved that we got to see Halle do all of these things. Halle finds herself in so many important conversations about book blogging and YA books, Twitter and who YA is for included, and so much of our everyday lingo, from ARCs to TBRs. Both Kels and Nash are vying for spots on a blogger panel at Book Con, and I loved all and any talk surrounding my favorite bookish weekend.
Although What I Like About You’s main plot somewhat revolves around books and blogging, there is so much more to Halle and this story outside the bookish-ness. With her star documentary parents off to Israel for a project, Halle and Ollie are spending the school year living with their grandfather. I really enjoyed Halle and Ollie’s sibling relationship. Halle and Ollie tell each other everything and aren’t afraid to call each other on everything either.
Another favorite relationship of mine was between Halle and Gramps. In the beginning, there is a lot of tension in the house, as Halle and her family are mourning the recent death of her grandmother.While Halle owes much of her love for books and baking to her star publishing editor of a grandmother, she feels she can’t talk about Grams with Gramps. I really loved seeing the progression of Halle and her grandfather’s relationship, as they both begin to work through their grief and healing together.
Another aspect of Halle and her family life that I absolutely loved was the fact that Halle is Jewish. While Ollie and Halle didn’t grow up with a lot of the traditions, their grandfather gets them into going to synagogue with him and learning more about their religion. While I’ve read a few YA books with Jewish characters and a Jewish protagonist here or there, I feel like Marisa Kanter really sheds light on Halle’s religion, explaining some of her family’s customs and holidays. Halle’s friends are also Jewish, and they all spend their Friday nights observing Shabbat. I really liked seeing Halle’s religion because there are definitely a lack of Jewish characters in YA and it was such great representation.
I loved the depiction of Halle’s online relationships with her friends and of course, Nash. Their Twitter banter and conversations were so much fun, which made it even all the more awkward when Halle struggles to talk to Nash IRL over her fear of her revealing herself as Kels. As much as I was screaming for Halle to just do it already- I loved Ollie’s remark that she’s read enough books to know how it will go- I really did enjoy the progression of their relationships and seeing Halle become part of the friend group, Le Crew. I loved seeing her grow friendships with Molly, Autumn, and Sawyer as well (hang outs and work sessions at the cupcake shop all included).
Overall, What I Like About You is the YA contemporary debut that you absolutely cannot miss this year. I really think this book is perfect for any type of YA contemporary reader, having all the important contemporary elements- friendship, family, romance, personal growth & discovery- executed so well, but especially for its spotlight on blogging, publishing, and all in all, Halle and What I Like About You readers’ shared love of books. I’ll definitely be screaming across the Internet about this one for a while, and I am so excited to see what Marissa Kanter has next!
What I Like About You comes out on April 7, 2020.
This review is based on an advance reader’s copy. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts and opinions.
Inspired Cupcake Recipe: Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting
Cupcakes are the name of Halle’s baking game. After all, the inspiration for her blog, One True Pastry came when she was baking cupcakes with Grams.
I decided to create Halle’s Gramps’ favorite type of cupcake, red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Red velvet is a personal favorite of mine and I’ll just about eat any kind of dessert that has cream cheese frosting.
Is What I Like About You on your TBR? What are some of your favorite books with characters that love books or blogging? Share in the comments!