St Martin's Press
March 01, 2016
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Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.Hannah and Nick's story in In Real Life is sweet and cute without being fluffy.The way we see some of their friendship prior to Hannah's impromptu road trip decision is a good choice. Readers know that their best friends, that they talk on the phone, text and/or email every day, but that they've never met. It's just enough background - especially when paired with one event from the past - to have you pulling for them but not loving them, yet.
There's just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.
Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she's supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.
Hannah's romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick's girlfriend, whom he failed to mention. And it turns out his relationship status isn't the only thing he's been lying to her about. Hannah knows the real Nick can't be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.
I liked that we see that there's some friendship and hear how they care about each other, but as the story progresses - even once Hannah's in Vegas, there were more glimpses into their past, more evidence of how much they mean to each other.
Hannah was absolutely frustrating at times, but in a way that also made her feel very real. She is a character you can relate to and understand. Her desire to be 'good' and to follow rules is something you can understand. Yet, you can also understand her desire to break some of them, for once. The way she was so focused on everyone else, especially Nick, telling the truth but not seeing how she was also less than truthful was frustrating but, again, made her feel real.
The ways the different characters interacted, the ways they helped, hindered or ignored the others, their motives for doing so and how their relationships all intertwined made In Real Life a fun and compelling read. It was those touches of drama, resistance, and roadblocks that made the sweet and adorable parts even better.
You don't need to have had (and met) an 'internet best friend' to love In Real Life, but if you have Hannah, her reservations and anxieties and Nick should ring very true.
review copy received, via NetGalley, thanks to publisher