Happily ever afters

Elise Bryant

Book - 2021

Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She's rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she's a true leading lady is in her own writing--in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she's excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her... first workshop, the words are just...gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she's ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa's stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming. But as Tessa checks each item off Caroline's list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about--including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She's well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?

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Subjects
Genres
Romance fiction
Published
New York, NY : Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers 2021.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
378 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780062982834
0062982834
Main Author
Elise Bryant (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Bryant's debut will charm readers from the start. Sixteen-year-old Tessa just got the exciting news that she has been accepted to attend an academy meant to hone the artistic talents of teenagers. As a budding fiction writer with a love for romance, Tessa is excited about this fresh start and to meet like-minded peers, until the worst possible thing happens—she gets a case of writer's block. In an attempt to find her words, Tessa agrees to a crazy scheme to make popular student Nico fall in love with her. While romance is the focal point of this novel, Bryant seamlessly captures a broader view of the high-school experience through Tessa's eyes, including such complications as pressure from her parents to be a better sibling and an uneasy long-distance friendship that seems to be floundering. While skillfully and realistically portraying Tessa's many challenges, Bryant never loses sight of the love story at the book's heart. Hand to fans of Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2014) or Maureen Goo's I Believe in a Thing Called Love (2017). Grades 9-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

After moving to Long Beach, Calif., biracial Black junior and aspiring romance author Tessa Johnson, 16, enrolls in the creative writing conservatory at prestigious Chrysalis Academy. But even as her social life flourishes at the private art school—with new friends, including her supportive, blond baker neighbor Sam—she can't surmount a serious case of writer's block and imposter syndrome, brought on by her first encounter with workshop environments. To alleviate Tessa's fear of embarrassment and lack of romantic experience, childhood best friend Caroline Tibayan suggests Tessa create her own love story with Nico, a rich, popular white classmate. Anxious and self-conscious, Tessa knows that outsiders judge her older brother, who has athetoid cerebral palsy and cognitive impairment, and hold preconceptions about the siblings' biracial Black and white identity. Thus, as she grows closer to Nico and his friends, she can't help but notice their frequent insensitivity. Caught between pursuing a tale-worthy love and slowly losing herself, Tessa must learn to tell a story that's uniquely hers. Debut author Bryant creates a wholly genuine protagonist in Tessa; readers will surely root for her as she finds her voice. Ages 14–up. (Jan.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 9 Up—When 16-year-old Tessa starts a creative writing program in her new Southern California school, she is excited to work on her romance stories as a class assignment. Though she misses her best friend, Caroline, Tessa feels comfortable among the artists at her new school. Just as things seem to be falling into place, Tessa runs into a debilitating case of writer's block. She's terrified of being called out as a fraud, but her friend Caroline develops Operation Happily Ever After, a plan to jump-start Tessa's creativity by giving her an actual love life. Nico, a confident classmate, becomes the center of her plan and Tessa works toward turning her crush into something more, though she comes to realize that maybe what she values in a love interest is different from what she thought. Tessa, a brown-skinned, mixed-race girl (her mom is white, and her dad is Black), must deal with the daily struggles of racism. She also has to defend her older brother, who has disabilities and often causes public scenes that make people uncomfortable. Characters address their issues through realistic, compelling dialogue and ideas, which don't feel forced or pedantic. Tessa has friends who are Filipino, Cambodian, white, and Black. Tessa addresses the lack of diversity in literature and her own need to see herself in books. VERDICT This well-written, page-turning romance is packed with smart dialogue, powerful insights, and a lovable cast of characters. Highly recommended for all high school libraries.—Karin Greenberg, Manhasset H.S., NY Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A gifted young romance author is accepted into a prestigious writing program and suddenly loses her creativity, until an unexpected love comes her way.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She's rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she's a true leading lady is in her own writing--in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she's excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just...gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she's ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa's stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming. But as Tessa checks each item off Caroline's list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about--including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She's well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I've Loved Before in this charming debut romantic comedy filled with Black Girl Magic. Perfect for fans of Mary H. K. Choi and Nicola Yoon, with crossover appeal for readers of Jasmine Guillory and Talia Hibbert romances. Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She's rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she's a true leading lady is in her own writing'in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she's excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just...gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she's ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa's stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming. But as Tessa checks each item off Caroline's list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about'including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She's well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this charming debut romantic comedy filled with Black Girl Magic. Perfect for fans of Mary H. K. Choi and Nicola Yoon, with crossover appeal for readers of Jasmine Guillory and Talia Hibbert romances. Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just...gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she’s ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa’s stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming. But as Tessa checks each item off Caroline’s list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about—including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She’s well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?