**I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**
Book: She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen
Release Date: April 20, 2021
My Rating: 4 stars
Rep: ownvoices lesbian protagonist, lesbian Indian-American love interest, Black side character
CW: toxic relationship
Summary: High school nemeses fall in love in this queer YA rom com perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Casey McQuiston.
After losing spectacularly to her ex-girlfriend in their first game since their break up, Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, the incredibly beautiful and incredibly mean Irene Abraham. Things only get worse when their nosey, do-gooder moms get involved and the girls are forced to carpool together until Irene’s car gets out of the shop.
Their bumpy start the only gets bumpier the more time they spend together. But when an opportunity presents itself for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex (and climb her school’s social ladder at the same time), she bribes Irene into playing along. Hijinks, heartbreak, and gay fake-dating scheme for the ages. From author Kelly Quindlen comes a new laugh-out-loud romp through the ups and downs of teen romance.
After I loved this author’s Late to the Party, I was already excited for her next release, but then I read the premise. This book gave me so much that I didn’t even know I needed. She Drives Me Crazy was such a fun f/f hate-to-love sports romance with fake dating!
Scottie is having one of the worst days of her life: first, she loses her basketball game against her recent ex whom she’s still in love with. Then she gets into a fender-bender with Irene, the head cheerleader against whom she’s held a grudge for the past year. When their moms force them to carpool, the two of them must spend time with each other. Eventually, Scottie bribes Irene into a fake dating scheme to make her ex jealous and to make her basketball team more popular.
This book was so much fun! I know that the “fake dating” and “hate-to-love” tropes combined can rely too much on either one without any real character development, but this book manages to balance all three aspects. It’s also a bit campy, but that’s what makes it fun! Fake dating is best when it’s humorous, honestly. Also, this is a gay sports book! Scottie is a basketball player, and Irene is a cheerleader.
I loved the characters! Scottie’s family is super supportive of her, as is Irene’s family. Their friends are always there for them as well. I liked that Scottie and her best friend Danielle both help each other realize what’s best for themselves. As for representation, Scottie is a lesbian, as is Irene. Irene is also Indian-American, and Danielle is Black.
Scottie and Irene’s dynamic is so great as well. Scottie hates her after she pulled a mean prank on her; Irene in general is blunt and upfront. Their banter is fun, and I liked their scenes!
I liked that this book leans into some of its stereotypes instead of making these characters one-dimensional. At first, Irene seems like a stereotypical mean girl, but as we get to know her, we see that she’s more than that without sacrificing the fact that she is a bit mean. While Irene’s best friend Honey-Belle seems like a typical airhead cheerleader at first, it’s clear that she holds a lot of emotional intelligence. Especially since they’re cheerleaders, people, including Scottie, hold this idea of who they are in their heads and refuse to see that they’re more than what’s on the surface.
Like I said before, this book has great character development. Scottie’s ploy of fake dating is an attempt to make her ex Tally jealous, but she also must get over Tally while doing so. She knows, logically, that Tally was toxic and manipulative, but she still has trouble letting her go. Throughout the book, the other characters, including Irene, help her to acknowledge her feelings and to move on. She also has to face the fact that Irene is more three-dimensional than what she initially envisioned her as.
She Drives Me Crazy is both fun and heartwarming. I loved the characters, as well as the fact that this book fleshes out otherwise stereotypical characters. If you enjoy f/f fake dating stories with hate-to-love and a sports romance, She Drives Me Crazy is the book for you!
About the Author: Kelly wrote her first story, a gripping tale about the Easter Bunny, when she was six years old. Her traditional debut, Late to the Party, releases April 21, 2020, from Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press. She is also the author of the self-published novel Her Name in the Sky, which was featured on BuzzFeed, Bustle, and AfterEllen.
Kelly graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in English Literature and American Studies. She spent two years teaching middle school math with Teach for America in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She currently lives in Atlanta, where she is on the leadership team of a non-profit for Catholic parents with LGBT children.