Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 240 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**
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.The world we live in is smaller than ever before. We can communicate to someone who lives across the world in the blink of an eye. Skype, email, and Twitter have all served to turn our world into what feels like a community. In Real Life examines the ups and downs of an online friendship, especially one that may be turning into something more, and the highs and lows of meeting in real life.
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 Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.
Hannah's surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can't be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has 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.
Anyone who has grown up with the internet will instantly connect with the set up of the story. We've all struggled with whether or not we should meet our online friends in person. We've questioned if it'll be awkward, and if that amazing connection will translate offline the same way it does online. Add to that the worries of safety and the natural butterflies if more than friendship feelings are involved and it's easy to sympathize with Hannah.
Hannah is a 'good girl' who decides to take some risks. Nothing will ever go exactly as you plan it, and the reality of Hannah's crushed dreams take a toll on her. She doesn't always make the best choices, but they are choices that feel right for her character. She's someone who has never experienced this kind of betrayal, and she reacts a little strongly at times and makes rash decisions as a result. The Las Veags setting lends a flashy setting to backdrop this drama and it really works. It feels right that it would take place in sin city, as my experience is nobody's Vegas experience is what they daydream it to be.
There are secrets and lies at the heart of this novel. Nick has kept a few things from Hannah that come crashing down around them when they finally meet. Without going into spoilers, there is a specific secret that involves another person. This person is treated unfairly, in my opinion, by Hannah. Nick is the one who kept secrets, but I feel this other person unfairly gets Hannah's anger directed at them.
My only, minor, issue with the story is that I wish it had gone a little deeper into certain aspects of the story. I wanted a little more from the characters, too. It reads like a cute romantic comedy movie, just one with a deeper message of how we interact with others in this media age. For me, the story just wasn't as memorable as I hoped, even has I had fun devouring every page. It's reminiscent of it's setting in that way - fun, but memories are blurry after.
A sweet, feel good story about love and friendship in the digital age. It's one of those books that is simply fun to read. It's characters are realistic and it's storyline is sweet, and boasts one of the more adorable endings I encountered in recent memory.