Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris Review

Hey Readers, Ethan here with yet another exciting review for you guys. Tonight I'm reviewing a book I've had sitting on my TBR for quite some time by one amazing author. This time on the chopping block? The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris! Before we get to my thoughts, here's a bit about the novel and our author:

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.
With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.


Rachel Harris

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls next door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books...and kissing. Lots of kissing.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romance, and LOVES talking with readers.

My Thoughts:

Oh man guys. I don't even know where to start with this review. I suppose the beginning is always a great place, huh? I met Rachel for the first time back in March at Austin Book Fest, I didn't really know much about her work, but I thought she was an awesome lady so I made a mental note to check her out. Flash forward three months and I saw her again at UtopYA. That second time I knew I had to get my hands on one of her books. I rushed to the bookstore and grabbed my copy of The Fine Art of Pretending. I'd heard amazing things and it was award-nominated, I figured I should check it out. I can tell you that I sure didn't expect for it to have the impact on me that it did.

I'll get the negatives out of the way first here. The only negative thing I have to say about this one is that the pacing was a little slow at times. I guess as a New Adult now, I had forgotten what the mindset of 17 year olds is like. Everything is dramatic, life is constantly crazy, and high school is the most terrifying place you'll ever go. Yes, I remember full well now. It took a little while for me to get back into a YA-contemporary mindset just because this novel is very YA-centric. If you're looking for steam and sexy-time, look elsewhere, you won't find it here. That part most definitely wasn't a negative, but I'm just pointing it out first. Once I got a knack for the pacing of the story, everything else kind of fell into place for me.

The plotline of Pretending was a unique twist on an old favorite. Much like Eliza Doolittle before her, Aly is ready to shed her skin and become something entirely different. Tired of being shunned by her peers, Aly is ready to step out and become sexy, confident, and popular. Operation Sex Appeal. Through her journey to become popular and win the heard of the school stud, Aly learns so much more about life through the eyes of her friends and herself. The story is told in alternating POVs from that of Aly and that of her 'best friend', Brandon. It was done in a much more unique way than I've ever seen before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot was full of quick wit, laughs, and enough feels to remind us all why being a teenager is so doggone rough. Get ready for the feels, because you'll catch them all!

I have to say at one point in the plot, I was really expecting a plot twist, alas, it didn't happen. I was really conflicted with how I hoped the novel ended. With such an incredible cast of characters, it was a tough call. Through Aly's journey she not only changes her own life, but also the lives of those closest to her. Each character in the story was touched by Aly's journey in some was and it really grounded the novel in an emotional, uplifting way. I believe that all readers can relate to these characters. Male or female.

On that note, as a male reader, I was a little hesitant to check this one out. I wasn't familiar with Rachel's works before this and I didn't know how 'male-friendly' this story would be. I was blown away at how well Rachel captured the teenage male mind and formulated her male characters. Justin and Brandon were two of my favorite characters in the entire story. Rachel respects her characters, meaning her males aren't one-dimensional and are just as equally flawed and complex as their female counterparts. That earned Harris some huge points in my book.

The setting to this novel was really great. Harris fully emulated the feel of a contemporary high school setting. I found myself traveling down memory lane more than a few times with this fun-filled story. 

While this novel was an incredibly fun read, Harris touches on a number of extremely hardhitting topics that are of vital importance to YA readers including acceptance, love, maturity, responsibility, and companionship. Each theme is hit in such a way that the reader is left reflecting on their own life and the choices they have made to get there. Harris didn't set out to answer all YA questions about life and teenage happiness, but she does a fantastic job capturing the YA mindset either way. It is my belief that this read would be a perfect fit for all YA readers.

As you can see, I really enjoyed this novel. It isn't often enough that I get to enjoy a well-written YA contemporary novel. Especially one with such complex characters, a unique plot, and hard-hitting themes as The Fine Art of Pretending. It is by-far one of my all-time favorite Young Adult Contemporary novels. Move over John Green, you've got competition! 

All of this being said, it should come as absolutely no surprise that I am granting The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris a near-perfect 5-star review. I am so glad that I took the time to check this one out. I was not disappointed at all! I highly recommend this read to YA lovers and anyone who is looking to add something special to their TBR. Be on the lookout, Harris has announced a sequel to Pretending due out in Spring of 2016! You better believe I'll be reading it ASAP!  


Alright readers, that's all I have for you on the topic of The Fine Art of Pretending by the incredible Rachel Harris. Seriously folks, this was a fantastic read. I urge you all to check it out ASAP! Also, stop by and give Rachel a shout out! She doesn't bite, I promise.

Until next time, Happy Reading!


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