Review: What I Like About You
Title: What I Like About You
Author: Marisa Kanter
Publication Date: 7 April 2020
Format: eBook, Netgalley ARC
Rating: 3/5 stars
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Can a love triangle have only two people in it? Online, it can… but in the real world, it’s more complicated. In this debut novel Marisa Kanter explores what happens when internet friends turn into IRL crushes.
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.
I guess before I actually review What I Like About You I do want to acknowledge that I am an adult reviewing a book that was very much written for teens. When I review YA books (especially contemporary), I do it from a librarian perspective, where my focus is on advocating youth.
What I Like About You has the best and worst of YA/Book Twitter, which made it feel stressful to read at times. It was actually a good reminder to why the Internet should be approached with caution, even if “hot topics” tend to die out within 24 hours.
However, it is also about so much more. Anxiety, family, loss and grief, actions and consequences, religion (Jewish representation, which is fantastic), and friendship are major themes that are packed together in this sweet book where Halle (our protagonist) actually sounds and acts like a teen.
What I Like About You is refreshing in how it presents these real-life issues and triumphs. However, the constant lying hits a point where it becomes exhausting to read, and it starts to feel like it’s just there to make the book longer. Which, in turn, made the book feel less and less realistic and genuine.
I think teen readers will enjoy a contemporary book that acknowledges real topics around them. There is great representation in What I Like About You, and I really think that Marisa Kanter’s writing will entertain teens and advocate for them at the same time by reminding adult readers, that YA is not meant to be adult.
Even as an adult, I related to Halle’s anxiety, which made a few things difficult to read, but it also felt comforting to read about someone else feeling the exact same way I do in crowds, during confrontation, and in cemeteries.
Her younger brother, Ollie, is really well-written, and I loved how they were both siblings and friends.
Nash and the other characters were all so unique, which was great. I just felt like there was a level of development missing, especially from Nash, as he happens to be a main character.
All in all, What I Like About You is a solid read that teens will enjoy for the most part. I think many will see themselves reflected in it, and will also relate to the sometimes toxic, sometimes amazing community known as YA/Book Twitter and Bookstagram.