Children's Literature - Amanda MacGregor
When Holly starts hooking up with Paul, a classmate she does not know very well but decides to sleep with anyway, she is not overly concerned with the consequences of her choices. When it looks like Paul might actually like Holly and want to continue seeing her, she is mystified. They hardly know each other, she puts no effort into her appearance, and she is not popularpretty much the polar opposite of Paul's girlfriend. And there is that minor pesky detail: Paul has a girlfriend, Saskia. Holly allows things to continue with Paul, despite his repeated assertions that their trysts have to remain a secret, and only begins to pull away from him when she strikes up a friendship with Saskia. Meanwhile, something is starting to change with her relationship with Nils, her best friend and neighbor. Just when Holly thinks she is starting to figure it all out, everything falls apart and she is distraught over her choices and their effects on the people she loves. This compelling debut novel is emotional, quick-paced, and funny. The chemistry between Holly and Nils is wonderful, and Holly's grief over her recently deceased mother adds depth to the story. The plot is small and mostly predictable, but an engaging narrative voice and well developed characters carry the novel. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott will enjoy this new voice in Young Adult literature. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—High school senior Holly Hirsh knows little about Paul Bennett beyond the fact that he is good-looking, popular, and has a "cool and put together" girlfriend. Seeking to fill the emotional void left by her mother's death, Holly loses her virginity to him and continues to see him. He demands that she keep their relationship secret, which exacerbates the complicated feelings she has toward her longtime best friend, Nils. When a school project provides a means for Holly to get to know Paul's girlfriend, her sense of betrayal becomes even deeper. The bare-bones plot elements seem soapy, yet first-time novelist Strasnick does a commendable job of tempering the dramatics down to a realistic portrayal of a teen needing to feel wanted, secure, and loved. Because of this characterization, regardless of Holly's mistakes and her excuses for Paul's caddish behavior, readers will find it easy to empathize with her.—Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library
Sex, alcohol and grief mix with gentle humor to drive Strasnick's first novel. Holly Hirsh, a senior, has not cried since her mother died six months ago. Holly feels nothing except a slight physical pain when she loses her virginity to classmate Paul Bennett in his car. Their unemotional affair is kept secret because Paul is already dating willowy beauty Saskia. The one positive thing Holly has going for her is Nils, the boy next door and her BFF, but his overtures for romance are not enough to stop Holly from making an unfortunate decision. Suddenly, Holly stands to lose more than she realized she had. The plot is predictable, yet the writing is tight and avoids melodrama. Secondary characters are strong, and Holly's emotional growth is believable. Some readers may grumble that Paul gets off scot-free while classmates ostracize Holly and label her "whore" after their affair becomes public, but this is Holly's journey, not Paul's. The fast-paced story will appeal to fans of Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen. (Fiction. 14 & up)
From the Publisher
"Nothing Like You is candid and quick-paced, with characters you can't help but want the best for." Deb Caletti, author of Honey, Baby, Sweetheart
". . . the playing out of the emotional causes and consequences of high-school sex is honestly handled."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January 2010
"Sex, alcohol and grief mix with gentle humor to drive Strasnick’s first novel...[T]he writing is tight and avoids melodrama. Secondary characters are strong, and Holly’s emotional growth is believable....The fast-paced story will appeal to fans of Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen." Kirkus Reviews
"First-time novelist Strasnick reveals the all-too-frequent scenario of a boy using a girl for sex and a girl trading sex for a semblance of love....[T]he book's complex characters and realistic ending will intrigue teen readers and may serve as a none-too-subtle object lesson for future relationships." Booklist
"[A] realistic portrayal of a teen needing to feel wanted, secure, and loved....[R]egardless of Holly's mistakes and her excuses for Paul's caddish behavior, readers will find it easy to empathize with her." SLJ
"Nothing Like You is happy, sad, funny, and heartbreaking all at the same time." Sacramento Book Review
Read an Excerpt
We were parked at Point Dume, Paul and I, the two of us tangled together, half dressed, half not. Paul's car smelled like sea air and stale smoke, and from his rearview hung a yellow and pink plastic lanyard that swayed with the breeze drifting in through the open car window. I hung on to Paul, thinking, I like your face, I love your hands, let's do this, let's do this, let's do this, one arm locked around the back of his head, the other wedged between two scratched-up leather seat cushions, bracing myself against the pain while wondering, idly, if this feels any different when you love the person or when you do it lying down on a bed.
This was the same beach where I'd spent millions of mornings with my mother, wading around at low tide searching for sea anemone and orange and purple starfish. It had cliffs and crashing waves and seemed like the appropriate place to do something utterly unoriginal, like lose my virginity in the backseat of some guy's dinged-up, bright red BMW.
I didn't really know Paul but that didn't really matter. There we were, making sappy, sandy memories on the Malibu Shore, fifteen miles from home. It was nine p.m. on a school night. I needed to be back by ten.
"That was nice," he said, dragging a hand down the back of my head through my hair.
"Mm," I nodded, not really sure what to say back. I hadn't realized the moment was over, but there it was our uncere-monious end. "It's getting late, right?" I dragged my jeans over my lap. "Maybe you should take me home?"
"Yeah, absolutely," Paul shimmied backward, buttoning his pants. "I'll get you home." He wrinkled his nose, smiled, then swung his legs over the armrest and into the driver's side seat.
"Thanks," I said, trying my best to seem casual and upbeat, hiking my underwear and jeans back on, then creeping forward so we were seated side by side.
"You ready?" he asked, pinching an unlit cigarette between his bottom and top teeth.
"Sure thing." I buckled my seat belt and watched Paul run the head of a Zippo against the side seam on his pants, igniting a tiny flame. I turned my head toward the window and pressed my nose against the glass. There, in the not-so-far-off distance, an orange glow lit the sky, gleaming bright. Brushfire.
"Remind me, again?" He jangled his car keys.
"Hillside. Off Topanga Canyon."
"Right, sorry." He lit his cigarette and turned the ignition. "I'm shit with directions."
Copyright © 2009 by Lauren Strasnick