Title // What I Like About You
Author // Marissa Kanter
Publisher // Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication Date // April 7th 2020
Synopsis // Can a love triangle have only two people in it? Online, it can… but in the real world, it’s more complicated. In this debut novel Marisa Kanter explores what happens when internet friends turn into IRL crushes.
There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.
He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…
Except who she really is.
Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.
That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.
Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.
If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
This is literally a book about book blogging!!! Hello, when have any of us book bloggers ever read a book about a book blogger? I certainly hadn’t, so when I heard of this book, I knew that I had to read it asap! And though it was far from perfect, for the most part, it was really sweet and fluffy and enjoyable to read!
Honestly, Kels (the online identity of Halle) is basically the idealized version of what I (and probably a lot of book bloggers tbh) aspire to be. Like her blog is the expectation and my blog is the reality lol. It was super enjoyable and cool to read about Kels thriving as a book blogger: emailing publicists to coordinate cover reveals and ARCs, talking about her TBR and her bookshelves, getting hyped for Bookcon (although might I add that the solution to her bookcon problem is quite simple: bookcon 2020 is cancelled), and chatting with her internet friends.
There’s also a special element of her blog where she recreates book covers out of cupcakes! And that’s honestly so adorable! Of course I always love hearing about baking, and this book is sure to make you super hungry in all the best ways, but also the aspect of combining baking and book blogging in this way is too adorable??
Some parts of Kels’s blogger life seemed a bit unrealistic to me, like how people actually care about bloggers rip. Like a book blogger on a bookcon panel and blowing up book twitter? Is it just me or would this only happen for a booktuber not a blogger. Also the fact that if she’s offline for like 6 hours her internet friends are shocked (maybe I just need better friends).
Also is she getting paid for all her baking listen I know we don’t get paid for reviews but… ingredients for 300 cupcakes cost a lot sounds like child labor to me… And just saying though that the most unrealistic part of the book was that she made blood red frosting for 300 cupcakes because I swear I empty half a tube of red food coloring into like one cup of frosting and it’s still pink but oh well. Anyways, I’m just nit picking here because I’m so familiar with book blogging, and for the most part it was really enjoyable and cool and realistic and fun to me as a blogger.
I found the premise of Halle/Kels meeting her online friend in person and choosing to keep her identity secret and then walking on eggshells to protect really interesting. At times I wanted to scream at Halle for being so immature and, frankly, stupid with the way she kept stringing her irl crush/internet bff along and not telling him even when they got so close. But then I thought: what would I do if I met online people in real life and, as a teen like Halle who also uses a pen name and doesn’t use my face online, I honestly don’t know.
There was a lot of talk in the book about choosing to have a pen name online, with Halle creating Kels, which I thought was interesting but also a bit ridiculous at times. For example, Halle keeps justifying Kels by saying that she didn’t want to be associated with her famous relative and at times I was like, girl, stop justifying yourself: you can have a pen name just because you want one and these ridiculous people need to stop acting like it’s some huge scandal and you’re lying or something.
Which also leads into the question of how well can you really know someone online versus in real life? And is the person you are online the same person you are in person? Part of the reason Halle doesn’t tell people that she is Kels is because she thinks she’s not as cool as Kels, she’s the crappy watered down irl version, which was really interesting to think about the differences in how we present ourselves online versus in person, and if the online persona really is a different person. I mean, it was interesting for me to think about me as Kay versus me in real life, but also I feel like this applies to pretty much anyone with social media.
For example, even though I use my real name/face/etc on my personal socials, this book made me think about how, just based on what I post/comment/etc, I can come across as different to the people I know in person. After all, social media is fake, right?
There’s also a point where, in considering how Nash supposedly loves Kels, Halle tells him that he doesn’t even know her, and contemplates whether it’s possible to have friends/love online. She concludes that you can have friends online, which I fully agree with, but like her I’m skeptical on whether you can love someone you just know online–after all, do you even know the real them?
I’m getting way too deep with this internet stuff and philosophical questions stemming from the mini existential crisis this book caused, so let’s talk about fun stuff instead! I loved the friendships, and their group was total squad goals! The romance was also super cute, ridiculous “love triangle” aside. And I absolutely loved the relationship Halle had with her family, especially seeing how supportive her little brother was of her blog!
There was some great rep in there too! There is Jewish rep, two of Halle’s friends are lesbians and dating, and also (my fave) Nash is a quarter Korean!
Overall, this book was a super enjoyable fluffy book that was just a love letter to book blogging so yay!! This book is honestly what Eliza and Her Monsters (a terrible book imo) wanted to and failed to be and I super recommend