Gr 8 Up—Olivia didn't get into the summer screenwriting program she applied for, so unlike the rest of her friends, she won't be having any grand adventures. In order to get her out of her comfort zone, Olivia's mother gets her a summer job at a zip line company—not exactly ideal considering she is afraid of heights. What the zip-lining job does offer is the chance to work with Jake, the boy who just happens to be the real-life version of the screen name Olivia chats about horror movies with every night on Reddit. Olivia knows Jake is the horror-loving Nightmare on Elm Street fan, but he has no idea she's the "Carrie" he talks to, especially since Olivia sent him a picture of her gorgeous best friend instead of herself. Olivia went from having no plans for the summer to trying to juggle her new job, write a screenplay, and keep her double life a secret from her cute coworker. Fans of fluffy rom-coms and fun-yet-predictable movies such as You've Got Mail will fall head over heels for Happy Messy Scary Love. Young adults will enjoy the over-the-top dad jokes offered up by Jake, and movie buffs will appreciate the film recommendations Olivia and Jake provide throughout the novel. This light romance will delight readers looking for something fun for their summer reading list. VERDICT Recommended for libraries where Kasie West and Sarah Dessen are popular.—Amanda Toth, Lane Libraries, Hamilton, OH
When the rest of your friends have thrilling summer plans, it's hard to get excited about spending your summer working at a zip-line company—especially when heights make you nervous.
To make things worse, when curly-haired Olivia, who struggles with the occasional pimple, shows up for her first day of work, she's shocked to find that Jake, one of her co-workers, is the same person she knows as Elm, whom she's been chatting with online for months under the name Carrie (from her favorite horror movie). To make it even more awkward, brown-eyed, glasses-wearing Jake doesn't realize that Olivia is Carrie, because the picture she sent him was actually of her beautiful, blonde best friend, Katie. Instead of clearing up the confusion immediately, Olivia keeps lying even as she starts to fall for the guy, creating a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac plot that relies heavily on coincidence and internal angst. Konen (Love and Other Train Wrecks, 2018, etc.) offers up friendly-but-steamy moments of romance that are shining points in an otherwise tired plot. Olivia's passivity is exhausting, as she seems unable to move forward without continual emotional boosts from friends, love interest, and family, whether she's going for a zip-line ride, writing her screenplay, or deciding to continue with the identity farce. Major characters are assumed white.
A story of the lies we tell ourselves and other people even when the truth would be easier and more rewarding. (Fiction. 14-17)