Expectations are the leading cause of bookish disappointment, according to a recent self-analysis conducted by April. More times than not, a person will be expecting something specific, or maybe just greatness in general, only to have their feelings liquid-fied and stomped on. And when I say liquid-fied, I mean that in the worst way possible, none of that soft, gooey, liquid insides. No, we’re talking the acidic, ick type of liquid insides.
But today, something absolutely monumental happened. Against all odds, the data was contradicted. I read a highly anticipated release, and my soul was not crushed by my mounding expectations. It was glorious.
Book: Perfect on Paper
Author: Sophie Gonzales
Published March 9th 2021 by Wednesday Books
Format: physical book
Biphobia, Internalised biphobia, Alcoholism mention, Drugs
• Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes―for a fee.
• Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
• Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.
• Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else.
• Does not appreciate being blackmailed.
However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89―out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service―that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach―at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.
Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.
Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong? (from Goodreads)
From Only Mostly Devastated, I knew Gonzales would serve up the humor and voice. And boy did she deliver. Everything about the writing, from the inner voice, to the banter, to the hilariously clever references was brilliantly done. I honestly believe that Sophie Gonzales could make a shopping list entertaining, that’s how good she is.
Darcy is an absolute delight. She is such a fun character. I know, I know “fun” is such a lame word, but truly, she is. Not only is she incredibly sassy, but it is really interesting to watch her gain confidence in her advice on paper vs in person.
She genuinely wants to help people by giving them relationship advice through Locker 89. The anonymity allows for her to both stay subjective (at least in most cases) and connect with people without the award real life encounters that would happen otherwise Darcy’s struggle to balance emotions with advice, especially when it came to matters to the heart, showed so much self growth and character development over the course of the story and I am here for it.
She screws the pooch. Multiple times. But the way she takes responsibility and handles situations with maturity truly is admirable. She messes up, she gets called out, and there are actual consequences to her actions before things so back to being sunshine and crocodiles in tutus.
I really enjoy how Perfect on Paper dove into all things relationships. It largely touched on three types of relationships: platonic, parental, romantic and covered a wide array of topics within each of those categories. Including, but not limited to:
- Attachment style
The way Gonzales dives into different topics about teenage relationships, especially healthy ones is really well done. Far too many times YA books portray and glamorize toxic relationships, so I was happy to see not only was there lot’s of discussion as to what constitutes healthy relationship, but also getting to see many in action.
And while Perfect on Paper is most certainly a rom-com, it didn’t shy away from tackling tough topics. The aforementioned relationships, but also bi-erasure and biphobia. Darcy is proudly bisexual, but at times struggles with not “being queer enough.”
I really enjoyed the way in which this was broached in the book. Representation is always really important and I was glad to see a bisexual mc be in a m/f relationship, because no matter who you date that bisexual identity is always valid.
potential spoilers! read at your own risk
Honestly, one of my favorite scenes in the whole book is during the Queer and Questioning Club. The discussion is about biphobia, centralizing around Darcy’s doubts about if dating a straight guy made her any less bisexual (the answer is a big resounding NO). The message to Darcy: “You’re queer” was such a beautiful moment.
Words cannot even begin to describe the amount of joy this book brings me. No amount of screechy caps locks or keyboard smashing can do the trick. Not even standing on the rooftop of a building, screaming I’d sell my soul to read for the first time again, I would with a giant microphone and confetti could express the absolute joy that this book is.
I am wholly dazzled. The characters, the humor, the voice, the everything surpassed my every expectation. Wow wow wow. Hands down one of the best books I’ve read in 2021. Seriously, go read it.
And to those lovely people who have already read and loved this book and now want to read similar ones by the bucket-full, never fear. I’ve come prepared with recs. Or you could always do what I did and reread again. Whatever floats your boat.
If you’re looking for a queer rom-com with amazing voice and humor, check out Sophie Gonzales’s other book, Only Mostly Devastated or The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth. If you’re on the hunt for rom-coms in general, I shared some of my faves in a list you can find here!
If you’re looking for a rom-com with a bi mc then check out I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee or Follow Your Arrow by Jessica Verdi.
And if the advice bit was your jam, try By the Book by Amanda Sellet. The main character, Mary, gives romance advice based on her bookish knowledge, and it’s perfect for a delightfully nerdy read.
Have you read Perfect on Paper? What did you think?