The Promise of Amazing

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
The Promise of Amazing Book Poster Image
Quiet girl tangles with bad boy in light teen romance.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

There's a positive message here about letting people move on and change their ways after past mistakes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

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."


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.


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.


All the big bad words, including "f--king," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "crap," and such creative terms as "douche nozzle." 


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. 

What 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.

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What's the story?

The first time Wren meets Grayson in THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, he's choking on a cocktail frank and she saves his life. An obvious attraction develops between them, but quiet, good girl Wren isn't sure what to think when she finds out Grayson was kicked out of his elite private school for selling term papers. Still, he continues to pursue her, even getting a job with her family's wedding-reception business. Wren likes him, too, but as she learns bigger, more dangerous secrets about his past, she has trouble deciding whether to trust him.

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 was like everything else in the room had faded to black. Except her. And me. And that was too important not to fight for." 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about reformed bad boys, such as Grayson. What's appealing about these kinds of characters? 

  • In books and movies about romantic characters with troubled pasts, what issues tend to come up? Are stories about reformed bad boys different from tales of reformed bad girls?

  • What are your favorite romantic movies? Did Wren's friend Jazz add any new ones to your list? Do you think these kinds of movies set up unrealistic or outdated expectations for romance? What do you think might be different in real life?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love love and romance

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