About the Book

Title: 180 Seconds
Published: 2017
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

CoCover Story: Shattered
BFF Charm: 
Big Sister
Talky Talk:
Upworthy Dot Com
Bonus Factor: 
Keith Mars Award for Awesome Dadhood
Relationship Status: 
Facebook Friends

Cover Story: Shattered

I don’t really have strong feelings about this cover. It avoids the things I hate most (big faces, stock photos of pretty people, etc.) but the shattered glass feels a little…vague. Like, sure, over the course of the book, Allison’s world is “shattered” but I feel like that’s sort of the theme in every book, right? With social media playing such a large part of a story, this feels like a missed opportunity for something really clever, in my not-so-humble opinion.

The Deal:

Adopted out of the foster care system at 16, Allison Dennis is now a college junior, doing her level best to avoid most people at all times. Not even her super sweet adoptive father Simon is immune to Allison’s trust issues. The only person she truly lets in is her best friend Steffi, who grew up in the foster care system with her. One night, Allison is pulled onstage to participate in a campus experiment with social media star Esben Baylor, and the two are forced to stare into each other’s eyes for 180 seconds. Something happens between them in those three minutes, and Allison finds her entire world turned upside down. Esben shows her the good in others, and Allison begins to let people in, but when she learns that those close to her have been keeping life-altering secrets, Allison wonders if trusting others was a mistake after all.

BFF Charm: Big Sister

BFF Charm Big Sister with Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All's face

Not gonna lie, y’all. There was a moment at the beginning of this book when I thought friendship might not be in the stars for me and Allison. Having spent the majority of her life in the foster care system, it’s no surprise that Allison has a hard time opening up to people. She was a level of introvert that even I couldn’t fathom. Also, her adoptive father Simon would send her care packages and she WOULDN’T OPEN THEM. She just stacked them in the other room! Who could receive a care package in the mail and not open it?!?!?! There might be cookies in there!

Thankfully, with the help of Esben and Steffi, Allison began to open up and relax a little, and what emerged was a caring, funny person who seemed to be experiencing the world for the first time. I wanted to pat her head when she was adorably clueless and hug her every time she made a breakthrough.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

When first we meet social media star Esben Baylor, I immediately rolled my eyes and said something along the lines of “oh my god his name is ESBEN?!” Esben is a mix of Brandon from Humans of New York and those hot twins that had an inspirational YouTube channel. He’s got hundreds of thousands of followers and he’s always staging and filming these stunts to create warm, fuzzy content for his social media sites. Honestly, he seemed like the type of dude I’d hate. But! When Allison participates in his 180 Seconds experiment, and subsequently can’t stay away from him, Esben proved to be the perfect guy. Honestly, totally perfect. A little too perfect at times. Their relationship definitely had it’s sexy/swoony moments, but Esben never emerged as a real person for me.

Talky Talk: Upworthy Dot Com

Like her previous novels, 180 Seconds is a quick contemporary read infused with Jessica Park’s signature humor and warmth. With its focus on social media, and the way Esben (and by default, Allison) is on this quest to make the world a better place by leveraging social media, it felt at times like I was watching one of those feel-good, inspirational viral videos where people do nice things for strangers or get once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. There were times when the story erred on the side of saccharin (and overused hashtags a bit for my liking) but the weight of Allison’s past coupled with her current problems kept the story from feeling TOO sweet.

Bonus Factor: Keith Mars Award for Awesome Dadhood

Keith Mars hugging his daughter, Veronica Mars

As previously mentioned, Allison was adopted out of foster care at 16, so Simon has only been her adoptive father for a few years. But you guys. Simon is quite possibly the best dad of all time. Also he’s a hot gay dad who sends care packages and adopts dogs and likes fancy cheese. As much as I liked reading the progression of Allison’s romance with Esben, it was honestly the progression of her relationship with Simon that had me feeling major feels throughout the book.

Relationship Status: Facebook Friends

Book, if you sent me a Facebook friend request, I’d never leave you hanging (something I’m notorious for doing). We can keep in touch via the interwebs, and whenever your posts pop up in my feed, I’ll remember our time together fondly.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from SkyScape, I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the gross cranberry ones) for writing this review. 180 Seconds is available now.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.