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The Renegades Of Spunk

Five teens unite to serve up vigilante acts of kindness in Carrie Firestone's engaging new novel, The Unlikelies.

The Renegades Of Spunk

BOOK REPORT for The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

Cover Story: Montell Jordan
BFF Charm: Make It Rain
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Vigilante Acts of Kindness, Diversity
Relationship Status: Like Like

Cover Story: Montell Jordan

How absolutely DARLING is this cover?! Even better, it's not cute artwork for the sake of cute artwork. The father of the book's heroine drives an ice cream truck, and there are five friends in her crew--the same number of icy treats featured across the middle.

This novel is so good looking, I wish I could carry it around all the time. OH WAIT.

That's right, y'all, my wallet and this cover are twins. How unlikely* is that?

*See what I did there?

The Deal

Sadie has been bracing herself for the start of summer, when all of her senior friends are leaving her, a lowly junior, in their graduation dust. Hoping she can just close her eyes and fast forward a year, Sadie instead finds her days slowing to a crawl at the local farm stand where she works. That is, until she steps between a belligerently drunk customer and his car, which happens to have his baby daughter in the backseat. This brave act earns Sadie a stint in the hospital and an invitation to the Rotary Club's Homegrown Hero luncheon, where she meets other do-gooders (Val, who collects school supplies for the children of migrant workers, and Jean, who runs an art camp for kids) and becomes reacquainted with an old friend (Alice, who photographs shelter dogs to increase their chances of adoption) and an old crush (Gordie Harris, who works with developmentally disabled adults). 

There's an instant chemistry between this ragtag group, and they quickly find themselves bonding over a common objective: defending the defenseless. Soon, they're slamming trolls online and promoting small acts of kindness under the name The Unlikelies. Their mission expands when one of Sadie's farm stand regulars leaves her a suitcase of heirlooms and asks her to make up for the wrongdoings of his father, but the real challenge begins as the team tackles the problems in their own lives--a manipulative boyfriend, a drug addicted bestie, a neglected child. Can these Homegrown Heroes truly save the day?

BFF Charm: Make It Rain

I hope The Unlikelies are accepting new members cos I wanna join SO BAD. Though Sadie as the narrator is the most fully fleshed out character, I was immediately smitten by everyone in this motley crew. They're nerdy yet cool; earnest yet witty; compassionate yet flawed. Above all, they actively work on their burgeoning friendship, and I delighted in watching them support and celebrate each other. 

So, seriously guys, where do I submit my application?

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Apologies, but I can't get into specifics about the romance in this book without ruining it completely. You're just gonna have to trust me when I say that it's sweetly slow burning and most definitely toe-wiggly. 

Talky Talk: Straight Up

I really dug Carrie Firestone's charmingly candid style in her first book, The Loose Ends List, and while Sadie offers a new voice in The Unlikelies, the writing is equally as refreshing. With clever and breezy dialogue, this novel feels like a beach read, but the emotions it contains add a meaningful weight to the story.

There are, however, a few instances when the seriousness of the situation (example: trying to save a friend from a smack house) feels glaringly at odds with the tone of the book, and consequently, the resolution of those storylines is a bit simplistic. But thanks to her winning characters and invigorating premise, Firestone still left me satisfied. 

Bonus Factor: Vigilante Acts of Kindness

Lest you think this is some Hallmark "pay it forward" shizz, Sadie and her posse are far more enterprising in their righting of wrongs. They help a website about Mayan culture, made by a school weirdo, go viral; they post positive yet scathing comments on their schools' slam pages; they leave candy necklaces and nice notes on the doorsteps of bullies. Their brand of justice is strong and kind, but it's also playful, and like I said earlier, WHERE CAN I APPLY?

Bonus Factor: Diversity

The Unlikelies are a spectrum of color and cultures. Sadie's mother is Iranian (her dad is white), while Val's family is from El Salvador and Jean is Haitian. Rather than being basic labels or descriptors, these backgrounds enrich each character and develop them more fully. 

Casting Call

Yara Shahidi as Sadie

Ryan Simpkins as Alice

Caitlin Sanchez as Val

RJ Cyler as Jean

Mitchell Hope as Gordie

Relationship Status: Like Like

Book, I'll take a note from your cover and admit that I'm sweet on you--but it's not just because of your cute looks. You're inspiring and funny and just the right amount of whimsical, and the smile you left on my face is unlikely* to fade anytime soon.

*Sorry not sorry. 

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review. The Unlikelies is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).