Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.
There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.
Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.
Hannah’s romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick’s girlfriend, whom he failed to mention. And it turns out his relationship status isn’t the only thing he’s been lying to her about. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.
Ok, so there are two things that I have to say about In Real Life before I get into the nitty-gritty of the review. Firstly, I have said it before and I will say it again – nay, I will keep saying it until people believe me (warning – gratuitous use of capital letters approaching) YOUNG ADULT FICTION IS THE BEST FICTION BEING RELEASED AT THE MOMENT. Good now that is out of my system I can go on to my second point. Having read other reviews of Jessica Love’s In Real Life I can see that is has been described as whiney and chock full of angst – I agree it is…but why is that a bad thing?
I was (what you could consider to be) a relatively “normal” teenager but looking back I can see I had moments of pure petulance; moments when I stomped all the way up the stairs believing that was the way to get my own way. Yes, I even had those romances that felt like the world was going to end if the boy I loved didn’t love me back….and if I am being really, really honest (indeed, if we are all honest with ourselves) then even up until I entered my current relationship (which had freakishly similar roots to that of Hannah and Nick), I still felt like that.
It is for this very reason that In Real Life is utterly wonderful. The story gripped me from the moment I opened it until the very last page. I was fully immersed in Nick and Hannah’s love frennaisance (I am aware that this isn’t really a word but this is my review so what are you gonna do?
Love perfectly encapsulates the feeling of: young bourgeoning love, fear of rejection along with the grassroots of love in the age of the internet. She does this without judgement and without patronising her characters – she allows you to feel what they feel rather than thinking “oh silly little girl/boy, they don’t know what love is.” As someone who works with teenagers on a daily basis I understand that this is what they are looking for, a verisimilitude of what love can be like, what it is. For that, readers must be thankful.
In Real Life was a treat to read and one that I will be recommending to the teenagers I teach.
In Real Life by Jessica Love is available now.