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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some mention of other literary works, including Plato's Republic and A Separate Peace. The Promise of Amazing could inspire discussions about romance in books and movies as contrasted with real life.
There's a positive message here about letting people move on and change their ways after past mistakes.
Positive Role Models
Although he's made huge mistakes in the past, Grayson learns to let go of his bad-boy alter ego and build a new life as himself. Quiet Wren learns to speak up and live her own life: "I'm making my own mistakes, doing my own thing."
Violence & Scariness
Grayson and Luke, Grayson's best friend/worst enemy, get into two fistfights, one of which lands them in police custody. Grayson's dad appears to have a heart attack.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's some sex talk among the characters. A friend says Wren's last boyfriend pulled a "hump and dump" on her but offers no details. Grayson tells Wren about his past life of targeting women for hookups, after which his friends would rob them; he admits having sex with two of the women. Wren's sister gets pregnant unexpectedly while still in college. Grayson has condoms in his room when Wren comes home with him for the first time, but the scene includes nothing more than heavy kissing. Luke also kisses Wren on two separate occasions.
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All the big bad words, including "f--king," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "crap," and such creative terms as "douche nozzle."
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Products & Purchases
Brand mentions -- Hollister, iPod, iPhone, Coke, Bushmills, Taco Bell, Timberland, Starbucks, Red Baron Pizza, Pandora Jewelry -- are common and not always positive.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Wren and Grayson do shots at a party where there's lots of underage drinking; he also uses a fake ID to buy beer. Police find marijuana in the pocket of Grayson's friend. In another scene, Grayson drives drunk. Wren drinks beer with her brother. Grayson and his friends once dreamed of a trip to Amsterdam for the drinking and legal marijuana. Grayson's dad drinks Bushmills and smokes cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Promise of Amazing, a romance between a reforming bad boy and a quiet girl, has some swearing, a couple of fistfights, underage drinking, and an instance of drunk driving. Mild sexual content doesn't go into detail about anything beyond kissing and making out. Grayson's poor choices in the past, from selling term papers to hooking up with girls so his friends could rob them (and having sex with two of his victims), are part of the story, but so are his efforts to change. Ultimately there's a strong message about mistakes being part of life and learning to let people move on and do better.
Is It Any Good?
Some characters -- such as Wren's movie-obsessed friend -- are overly scripted, and the plot seems to go on too long before reaching a too-perfect ending. The protagonists narrate alternate chapters, so readers get to follow Wren and Grayson's inner thoughts and feelings as their attraction turns to love. They'll also know that Grayson has a bigger secret sure to cause some trouble down the road.
Still, although this isn't a deep book, teen-romance fans may find The Promise of Amazing a pleasant distraction with plenty of drama to keep readers wondering how things will work out between these two. Swoon-worthy moments include Grayson's realization: "I'd never felt like this before...it was like everything else in the room had faded to black. Except her. And me. And that was too important not to fight for."
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.