Not Exactly a Love Story

Not Exactly a Love Story

3.0 4
by Audrey Couloumbis

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“A fifteen-year-old creates an alter ego to woo his dream girl. Compulsively readable.” —The New York Times
This quirky, flirty, and smart story will appeal to fans of Frank Portman’s King Dork, John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines, and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park.

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“A fifteen-year-old creates an alter ego to woo his dream girl. Compulsively readable.” —The New York Times
This quirky, flirty, and smart story will appeal to fans of Frank Portman’s King Dork, John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines, and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park. It’s not exactly a love story . . . but it’s pretty close.
It’s 1977. Fifteen-year-old Vinnie is recovering from the worst case of acne his dermatologist’s ever seen. His girl moved to California without saying good-bye. And the ink on his parents’ divorce papers is barely dry when his mom announces they’re moving from Queens to Long Island. The silver lining? Moving next door to Patsy, everyone’s dream girl. Not that she’d ever notice him. But when Vinnie calls Patsy one night, it leads to a chain of anonymous midnight conversations, and the two develop a surprisingly strong connection despite the lies it’s built on. But as Vinnie gets to know Patsy in real life, it’s clear that both identities can’t survive. . . .

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
Readers who hang on past the claustrophobic initial chapters will be rewarded with a richly realized character. Vinnie's narration evolves beyond wisecracks, keeping pace with his emotional growth…As the emotional stakes rise, Vinnie's story becomes compulsively readable. The more he clings to the masks he's made, the more his vulnerability comes through. There's a bit of slapstick, a collision of identities at the high school dance. By then, his personality has been rendered in enough warm, honest detail to drive a sequence of events that, left to a lesser writer, might feel cartoonish.
—Jessica Bruder
Publishers Weekly
Fifteen-year-old Vinnie is not excited to move from Queens to Long Island with his newly remarried mother, but his attitude softens a bit after he glimpses the beautiful girl next door from his bedroom window. Unfortunately, when he calls Patsy, he loses his nerve and his voice, and Patsy pegs him as a "breather." Rather than explain himself, Vinnie impulsively plays the role of a mystery man/obscene caller, piquing Patsy's interest during the series of calls that follow. Soon, midnight phone conversations with Patsy are part of Vinnie's regular routine; the two establish an intimate relationship of sorts, speaking openly about matters they'd never discuss in public. When Patsy expresses her desire to meet in person, Vinnie, fearing rejection, is at a loss. Set in the 1970s, this offbeat love story humorously portrays the moments of vulnerability and bravado that change the course of these two teenagers' fates. Couloumbis (Lexie) steadily builds tension (the romance between Patsy and Vinnie never feels like a foregone conclusion) in a story with superb comedic repartees and a twisty-turvy plot. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Grinberg Literary Management. (Dec.)
VOYA - Suanne Roush
It is November 1977, and Vinnie Gold has moved to Long Island with his mother and new stepfather, who has been hired as a football coach and PE teacher at the local high school. It is the first time Vinnie has lived in a house, and the first time he has had a phone in his room. They are living next door to Patsy, a beautiful blonde the same age as Vinnie. She is part of the popular crowd, and Vinnie is sure she could never be interested in him, even if he could get her to notice him. He gets her phone number through an accident and decides to call, although by the time he gets the nerve, it is midnight. He wants to ask her to a movie, but what comes out, after a few false starts, qualifies as an obscene phone call. The next night he calls--again at midnight--to apologize. This begins a nightly series of phone calls during which they establish a connection. Patsy wants that connection in person and insists that they meet at the upcoming Valentine’s dance. Vinnie agrees but also makes a point to interact with her in person, which leads him to reveal the truth to her a few days later--a truth she was close to guessing. Although it is a pleasant story, it is doubtful that most teens are going to be able to relate to the story. It is obvious that the 1977 setting is used so that there are no cell phones, caller IDs, texting, or Facebook. Today’s teens have no concept of the anonymity necessary for this story to succeed. Purchase where more tween books are needed because it is doubtful this title will appeal to older teens. Ages 11 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
A late-night phone call turned bad…turns good. After his parents' quick divorce and his mother's even quicker remarriage to his gym teacher, Mr. Buonofuoco, in 1977, 15-year-old, half-Italian/half-Jewish Vinnie Gold relocates from New York City to Long Island with his mother and Mr. B. The loner teen knows that Patsy, the "foxy blonde" next door, is out of his league, but after discovering her private number, he musters the courage to call her at midnight. His nervousness and bumbling, however, leave Patsy thinking he's an obscene caller. The potential creepiness of the situation is not lost on Vinnie, and it fuels his desire to right his wrong and prove himself. So he calls back, and this time Patsy keeps listening--and even talking. With a shield of partial anonymity, their midnight repartee continues night after night, developing into an unusual romance that keeps Patsy guessing at Vinnie's identity and Vinnie watching the school's football star abuse her. In a first-person narration that ranges from humor and quirkiness to insecurity and anger, Vinnie struggles between two personas. Can he ever reconcile both selves and still keep Patsy's interest? Even if Patsy doesn't fall for Vinnie, readers will grow to love his vulnerability and sincerity. His parents' evolving relationships echo his own maturation. Not exactly a perfect story. But it comes pretty close. (Fiction. 13 & up)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2012:
“Not exactly a perfect story. But it comes pretty close.”
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—A story set on Long Island, New York, in 1977. Vinnie Gold has just turned 15, his dog dies soon thereafter, his crush moves away, and his parents announce they are getting a divorce. A good deal of this book is spent exploring with family dynamics after the breakup. Vinnie's mom ends up marrying Mr. Buonofuco, Vinnie's gym teacher. His dad, on the other hand, never wanted a divorce, but eventually begins to create a new life for himself. While Vinnie's family life is changing, so is his personal life. He moves to the suburbs with his mom and Mr. B and develops a crush on his next-door neighbor, Patsy, who, as luck would have it, is incredibly attractive and goes to his school. He accidentally acquires her unlisted phone number and decides to call her-night after night after night. At first she is angry, but as time goes by, they develop a relationship. A third of the way through the book readers may become tired of Vinnie's calls and disturbed at his stalkerish behavior. However, if they continue, they will find that he grows up and turns out to be a decent guy. This novel deals with many hard topics surrounding divorce, insecurity, and relationhips.Jesse L. Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
HL660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2012:
“Not exactly a perfect story. But it comes pretty close.”

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