Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: January 21, 2019
Almost sixteen-year-old Aria Jones is starting over. New postal code, new last name, new rules. But she doesn’t mind, because it means she can leave her painful regrets behind. In the bustling town of Eastmonte, she can become someone else. Someone better.
With the Hartford family living next door, it seems she will succeed. Sure, Cassie Hartford may be the epitome of social awkwardness thanks to her autism, but she also offers an innocent and sincere friendship that Aria learns to appreciate. And Cassie’s older brother, Emmett—a popular Junior A hockey player with a bright future—well … Aria wishes that friendship could lead to something more. If he didn’t already have a girlfriend, maybe it would.
But Aria soon finds herself in a dicey moral predicament that could derail her attempt at a fresh start. It is her loyalty to Cassie and her growing crush on Emmett that leads her to make a risky move, one that earns her a vindictive enemy who is determined to splinter her happy new world.
Be the Girl is a story that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it. Tucker has crafted an adorable story that packs a punch you won’t see coming. Be the Girl is a story about bullying, regret, and redemption. Regret and forgiveness go hand in hand, so feelings about the end of this novel may differ greatly person-to-person.
I’m usually not a fan of high school stories because I usually find them tedious with all their petty high school drama. However, Tucker expertly crafted an adorable romance within a much more poignant story about bullying, inclusion, and forgiveness.
Be the Girl seems like your typical high school romance novel with a little something more. I fully expected Tucker to touch briefly upon bullying and its consequences since the main character’s past, but I was not expecting what Be the Girl actually delivers. At a certain point in the novel, the story becomes so much more and it is absolutely incredible. There is an obvious shift in tone and direction that, in hindsight, is inevitable, but so well written.
One of the characters is a fifteen-year-old girl named Cassie who has autism. I’m not an expert in autism, but Tucker’s portrayal is well informed and genuine. Also, the characters’ reactions and actions towards Cassie are authentic and informative. There are so many moments where Cassie is the highlight of the scene that I would give her the breakout role award for this novel.
Be the Girl prominently features a romance, so there is some of Tucker’s signature chemistry and tension, though it is rated PG.
One of the things I loved most about Be the Girl is the fact that it’s set in a town outside of Toronto. I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve read that have been set in a Canadian city. Tucker is from the Toronto area, so I’m excited to see more of her novels set in and around Toronto!
Overall, Be the Girl is a breath of fresh air when it comes to YA novels set in high school. Tucker has created a novel with characters that are competent yet naïve and a highly relevant story about bullying and forgiveness all housed within an adorable first love romance.
** I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.