YouTubers Dunn and Raskin craft a humorous look at friendship and college life in their debut novel, told through emails and text messages exchanged between two best friends and college freshman. Gen Goldman, a journalism major, and Ava Helmer, a film major, are attending schools on opposite sides of the country, but they correspond constantly, updating each other about events and thoughts both mundane and profound, as well as seeking advice on how to handle their increasingly complicated social and sex lives. Fans of Dunn and Raskin’s YouTube channel, “Just Between Us,” will probably recognize the authors’ influence on their heroines, but Ava and Gen stand on their own as multifaceted characters. The tension between neurotic Ava and uninhibited Gen regarding sex and sexuality is especially engrossing; Ava’s many missteps regarding Gen’s sexual experimentation can be cringe-worthy, but they lead to meaningful conversations and growth. Thanks to the rapid-fire exchanges between the girls, it’s a fast-moving celebration of a friendship transformed by distance, change, and burgeoning maturity, but still stubbornly strong. Ages 14–up. Agent: Sasha Raskin, United Talent Agency. (Sept.)
An Autumn 2017 Indie Next Pick!
Named by Bustle as one of the "16 Books The Internet Is Going To Be Obsessed With This Year"
A POPSUGAR "Best Young Adult Book of 2017" Pick
"Give to fans of Robin Talley’s What We Left Behind or Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. VERDICT A first purchase for all libraries serving older teens." -School Library Journal (Starred Review)
"A fast-moving celebration of a friendship transformed by distance, change, and burgeoning maturity, but still stubbornly strong." -Publishers Weekly
"Fans will be delighted." -Kirkus Reviews
"Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin have captured everything about the pain and excitement of that first terrifying, fabulous, confusing year on your own in college. Hard enough, but try doing it separated from your dearest friend in the world. In this epistolary novel, you live day by day with Ava and Gen, deep inside that friendship, so deep, it feels like it’s your own." -Francine Pascal, bestselling author of the Sweet Valley High series
Gr 10 Up—This contemporary coming-of-age story of two friends on opposite shores explores difficult topics in a relatable tone. Ava and Gen are best friends whose relationship defines the maxim that opposites attract. Ava, the perfectionist, joins a sorority because she thinks that's what college students should do. She struggles with balancing her social life, anxiety, and class load. Gen is studying journalism and places herself in the thick of things by writing a controversial article as soon as she joins the school paper. She is queer and proud of it, but finds that her relationship with one of her teachers complicates matters. Narrated via texts and emails between the two main characters, this book will appeal to a wide range of teens. Ava and Gen wrestle with mental health issues, relationships, alcohol and drug use, and other typical aspects of college life. The text's light, conversational style allows readers to explore tough topics without getting bogged down. The character focus in this story takes the place of a compelling plot; however, fans of the authors' YouTube channels will find themselves turning pages quickly. Give to fans of Robin Talley's What We Left Behind or Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl. VERDICT A first purchase for all libraries serving older teens.—Jenni Frencham, Columbus Public Library, WI
A frenetic epistolary novel of friends weathering their freshman years of college. Best friends Ava and Gen (thinly veiled fictionalized versions of YouTube comedy duo-turned-authors Dunn and Raskin) couldn't be more different. Ava is a straight-laced, straight, white aspiring screenwriter who suffers from anxiety and comes from a loving family. Gen is a free-spirited, queer, white budding reporter who isn't afraid to take risks and has largely absent parents. While Ava is at the University of Southern California and Gen is attending Emerson, they maintain their long-distance friendship through continual, hyperbolic emails and text messages. Ava rushes a sorority, writes and produces a short film, and loses her virginity, while Gen joins the newspaper staff, has an affair with a teaching assistant, and tries cocaine for the first time. There are rapid-fire accusations, misunderstandings, and apologies as each young woman tries to manage the consequences of her own actions while still supporting and responding to the actions of her friend. While the authors explore real issues here, including cutting, alcoholism, and gender identity, much of it is lost in the manic back-and-forth dialogue that seems more concerned with cracking jokes than plumbing depths. What might be funny in a 3-minute video quickly becomes wearying in a 300-page novel. Fans will be delighted, the mildly curious exhausted. (Fiction. 14-adult)