With his third beautiful book, Jeff Zentner has cemented himself as a master of thought-provoking, stereotype-busting, heart-lifting YA fiction. His books are truly on par with those from John Green, Gayle Forman, and Melina Marchetta. As Rainbow Rowell eloquently states in her blurb of the book, "Anyone can break your heart -- Jeff Zentner can also make you laugh out loud." This is a book full of humor that endears the two main characters to the readers so much that when the tears come, at least there have been many laughs. And the tears aren't as heartbreaking as they've been in the previous two books, although there are still difficult themes explored, from absentee fathers and depressive mothers to the loneliness of feeling left behind. Those aspects are important, but it's the central friendship that makes the book such a memorable read.
Josie and Delia are so close that despite not looking anything alike and coming from vastly different backgrounds, they are commonly mistaken for sisters. They share not only a healthy sense of humor but also their love of their show, complete with alter egos (in the vein of sillier, less cleavage-sporting Elviras, for Generation X parents and older). The developing and so-so-sweet romance between Josie and aspiring MMA champion Lawson (who is half-white, half-Mexican and brings in the book's only ethnic diversity) is refreshingly earnest in a time when many YA romances are based in conflict, stress, and sarcasm. But the romance, as lovely as it is, takes a backseat to the real love story, the sisterhood between Josie and Delia, who each have secrets and sadness (Delia's journey to find her missing father will particularly break readers' hearts) yet are each other's biggest cheerleaders.