About the Book

Title: The Year of Secret Assignments (Ashbury/Brookfield #2)
Published: 2003
Series: Ashbury/Brookfield
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Just Fine
BFF Charm: Yes! Yes! Yes!!!
Talky Talk: Epistolatastic
Bonus Factor: Pen Pals
Relationship Status: Best Friends For Life


Original Title: Finding Cassie Crazy

Cover Story: Just Fine

There are quite a few different versions of this cover and while none particularly wow me, they don’t make me want to hide.

The Deal:

Best friends Emily, Lydia and Cassie are forced into a pen pal project for their English class at Ashbury High. Which is obviously a terrible idea, since their pen pals will be from rival school Brookfield High, the nearby hub of young adult criminals and miscreants. It’s through their letters that we witness the three girls’ school year – full of love, loss, revenge, laughter and adventure. And you’ll have to forgive me for sounding so generic in my description here – this is the kind of book that is hard to describe, since it isn’t as thick on plot. It’s the characters and the humor that will get you hooked.

BFF Charm: Yes! Yes! Yes!!!

Yay BFF Charm

I love Emily, Lydia and Cassie so so very much. They are fun, adventurous, hilarious and extremely supportive friends. If only they would let me be their d’Artagnan. Not only are they a blast, they are also fiercely loyal to each other. And they all share one of my favorite friendship qualities. When someone wrongs one of them, the others seek revenge! I mean, not crazy person revenge, just appropriate-for-the-crime type revenge. Oh, and while I’d prefer it if they’d be my boyfriends for life (if that doesn’t work), Charlie and Seb can become my besties too.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

This may be an unreasonably high score for a book where very little swoony action actually occurs. But the flirting in this book was adorable and the build up of sexual tension over series of letters was perf. You know how when you have an internet flirtation going (via whatever message service you are old enough to remember) it was always easier/better than in real life? Because people can be a lot more clever and have time to craft better responses? Well, same goes for letters and it is cute to see the characters develop crushes on each other and work hard to impress each other.

Talky Talk: Epistolatastic*

This is an epistolary novel, mostly written as a series of diary entries, emails and letters between our three girls and their pen pals. I haven’t read this style of novel in quite some time and it can certainly take some adjustment time. At first, I had a bit of difficulty distinguishing between the three girls personalities and keeping track of who was who. It was a much different way of getting to know a book’s characters than I am used to but once I did, I really enjoyed it. Moriarty’s teenage voices felt right on, with the perfect amount of humor and depth.

*No, this isn’t a word, yet

Bonus Factor: Pen Pals

Art of a woman writing a letter

This book’s entire plot revolves around the pen pal exchange program between Ashbury and Brookfield. Didn’t you guys always want to have a pen pal? Like, was anyone else convinced that if you had a boy pen pal they would inevitably fall in love with you and if you had a girl pen pal you would become super besties for life?* This one time in fifth grade, my cousin from another state tried to set me up as a pen pal with a boy she was friends with. I wrote him a letter and not only did he not write back, he made fun of my letter to everyone. He said that I wrote how much I loved ponies, which was obviously not true because I loved horses. Big difference. And my lovely cousin, instead of defending me like a decent human, made fun of me for it. For years. Even though she set the whole thing up. Huh, I’m starting to understand why our relationship is so strained (Blogging! It’s like therapy, but free!)

*Apologies for being heteronormative, adjust as needed.

Relationship Status: Best Friends For Life

This book and I were just meant to be super great friends. I want to have sleepovers every weekend with this book. I want to skip class to go to the movies with this book. I want other people to read this book so we can talk about it. Or else I’m going to just have to read all of the other books set in the same universe to get another fix.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). The Year of Secret Assignments is available now.

Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.