A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers get a bit of a travelogue as Shane and her friends explore London and make quick trips to Paris and Rome, where they visit the usual tourist attractions (Versailles, the Louvre, the Colosseum).
Having the courage to take on new experiences (like studying abroad) can change your life in ways you might never have thought possible.
Positive Role Models
Shane displays some extremely positive attributes (she's a serious, dedicated student, and during her internship she does grunt work without complaining). But she also doesn't stand up for herself when it comes to her future. She gives in to her parents' demands that she attend medical school rather than pursue a career as a writer, chooses a specialty for her residency in part because her boyfriend is "so passionate about it."
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple starts to have sex in the shower (kissing and removing of clothes) but slips on the wet tile and decides, "We're getting a bed." Door to bedroom closes behind them with nothing more described.
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Frequent strong language: "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "crap."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
While Shane and her classmates are of legal drinking age in the UK and Europe, they don't abuse that fact. They keep wine and beer in the flat and drink when out in restaurants and bars. One of Shane's goals in London is to "get a little bit drunk," which she does.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Christine Riccio's Again, but Better is all about second chances. Part 1 opens in 2011, as 20-year-old college student Shane Primaveri is headed to London for a semester abroad. Her parents think she's continuing her pre-med studies, but she's actually pursuing her first love, writing. She develops a mad crush on one of her flatmates, Pilot Penn, but he already has a girlfriend, and the semester ends with her love still unexpressed. Part 2 opens in 2017, as Shane decides to contact Pilot and see if there might be a chance for them. There is, of course, a second chance, as the two are magically transported back to 2011 and must make a life-altering decision: Do they return to their lives or stay in the past and make a new future for themselves? There's a fair bit of profanity ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "crap") and a briefly described shower scene in which characters kiss and remove each other's clothes. Teen readers may know or follow Riccio, as she's one of the three YouTubers behind Booksplosion, the platform's longest-running book club (since 2014). Her own channel, PolandbananasBOOKS, has more than 400,000 subscribers.
Is It Any Good?
With a semester abroad in London as the backdrop, this light romcom by one of YouTube's top booktubers gives two young Americans a magical second chance at love. Readers are likely to either be delighted by the Shane in Part 1 of Again, but Better or feel as if they've been locked in a room with a self-absorbed 20-year-old who leaves no thought unexpressed and is certain you'll be interested in even the most mundane detail of her day. One thing Riccio never adequately addresses is the abusive behavior of Shane's parents, who make it clear they'll support her (financially and emotionally) only if she becomes a doctor.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.