A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Insight into workings of journalism, including research, reporting, ethics, editing. Story shows what it takes to get into an Ivy League school.
Drive and ambition are important, but so is a balanced life. It's OK not to know everything; learn to consider advice from others. Reassessing longtime goals isn't failure. Have compassion and empathy for others going through a rough time.
Positive Role Models
Alison is hard-working and focused, but her competitiveness is all-consuming and off-putting. She rarely listens to what others say. Ethan is the same. Both are arrogant and spend much of their time looking ahead at the next goal, not enjoying the moment. They experience some emotional growth toward the end of the book and demonstrate that they do care about other people. Dylan is a good, honest friend to Alison. Alison's parents are loving, wise, funny. Her sister Jamie works to connect with her despite Alison's judgmental attitude. Dylan is bisexual, and all main characters present as White.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Plot involves dating and attraction. Some general talk about hooking up. A handful of descriptive, steamy scenes of kissing and heavy making out, once with clothing removed.
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Infrequent strong language, including "s--t," "f--k," "butthole," "God," "d--k," "hell," "damn," "piss," and "a--hole."
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Products & Purchases
Some brands and media mentioned, mostly for scene setting: Uber, Tums, Nordstrom, Uggs, Netflix, Keurig, Nike, Cheerios, Spotify, Starbucks, Dairy Queen, YouTube, Twinkies, Facebook, Michael's stores, Cheetos, iPad, Mercedes.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Background characters drink and get drunk at a party and at a bonfire. No main characters drink or use drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that What's Not to Love, by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, is a teen romance about two intensely competitive high school rivals who are surprised and confused when their longstanding disdain for each other transforms into a romantic spark. The story focuses on Alison's drive and commitment to academic success and shows the downside of not taking time to enjoy the moment. Romance and dating are central to the story, and the plot has a handful of steamy scenes of kissing and heavy making out. None of the main characters drink or use drugs, but they attend parties where classmates drink. There's infrequent strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," and "hell." The story provides insight into the downfalls of always working toward the next goal and not enjoying the present, and has themes of learning how to compromise and how to be more empathetic.
Is It Any Good?
In this cute but often tedious teen romance, academic rivals are shocked when their hatred turns to attraction. What's Not to Love has a fun concept and the writing is engaging in spots, but the overall execution falls flat, and the book is simply too long. Alison and Ethan are difficult to like and relate to. The story is told from Alison's point of view, and she has the same thoughts and fights with Ethan over and over. Her fixation on competing with him borders on unhealthy. Their squabbles are supposed to be witty and sharp and demonstrate their simmering passion, but they're mostly tiresome. The emotional connection isn't there, so the romance comes out of the blue and isn't believable. The characters do experience some emotional growth, but it happens too late in the book to make for a totally satisfying read.
However, the authors do a good job of shining a light on the consequences of striving to achieve at all costs. Too many teens spend their lives pushing to achieve for the sake of achievement; every step is a setup for the next step. At what point do they learn for the sake of learning and enjoy the present? While drive and ambition are admirable qualities, a balanced life is a healthier one. These ideas are expressed well in the story, and there are some nice passages about what emotional maturity really means.
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.