Cartoon of a blonde white girl and guy

About the Book

Title: Best Laid Plans
Published: 2020
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Cartoon Cuteness
BFF Charm: Big Sister
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!
Relationship Status: One Night Stand

Cover Story: Cartoon Cuteness

Cartoons are the new Big Face, right? This cover keeps it simple: besties Keely and Andrew. The pizza, Solo cup, and bra details are relevant details that scream, “There is druken partying and S E X in this book!” It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it certainly gets the point across.

The Deal:

It seems like everyone in Keely Collins’ senior class has lost their virginity, except for her. Keely has spent most of her time with her best friend Andrew since they left their mothers’ respective wombs, and dating the other guys in her tiny town just hasn’t really seemed all that appealing. But when she meets a college hottie named Dean who rides a motorcycle and is a film buff like she is, the other girls in her group convince her that if Dean knows she’s a virgin, he’ll make it a mission to devirginize then drop her. Keely HAS to be prepared for when she and Dean take things to the next level, and the only person who might show her the way is Andrew. 

Andrew’s been a total player since he “got hot” in middle school. Keely teases him about it a lot, but things get real when she devises a plan to have Andrew teach her how to sex…by actually having sex with her. Why not? Keely can trust Andrew, he makes her feel safe, he knows what he’s doing. But can Andrew teach her how to dougie and still stay her friend? It’s purely educational for Keely, at least, that’s what she thinks when she pitches her plan to her life long best friend.

BFF Charm: Big Sister

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

Keely, that sweet infant angel, needs a big sister to give her the need-to-knows about getting down and dirty. She is SO naive. SO clueless. If you’re 18, a senior in high school, and chomping at the bit to lose your V-card, you need to at least have some grasp on the details. And she wasn’t just clueless about sex. She also fell victim to the all-too-common YA traps of not knowing she’s pretty and thinking guys “don’t think of her that way” when teenage dudes pretty much think about all girls that way. And she is extremely careless with people’s feelings because she has her sex blinders on. Keely is a good friend, she’s funny, and she’s honest, but she needs an older, wiser sister to sit her down and give her a stern talking to.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Sure, Keely’s got a hot, new, college manpiece. But that’s not where the swoon is in this book. It seems crazy that Keely would ACTUALLY ask her childhood best friend TO HIS FACE to teach her the ins and outs (heh heh heh) of sex, but she does it, and Andrew is OMG so sweet about it. He doesn’t make fun of her, or tease her, or try to act like a know it all. He just wants Keely to feel comfortable and safe. Okay…*maybe* Andrew wants a little bit more than that, but I don’t want to give too much away. 

I did have to deduct a couple of points for complete and utter lack of communication. As much as this is a book about sex, I felt like the sexy times were constantly getting muddled and cockblocked by miscommunications that led to confused characters and hurt feelings. EVERYONE JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER. Because as we all know: talking leads to touching, and touching leads to sex.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

Cameron Lund delivers a no-frills contemporary YA with an authentic teen voice. These kids cuss, they make dirty jokes, they party all the time, they obsess about sex. It felt extremely real but also made me feel old as hell. I’m officially moving into “get off my lawn” old lady terrority because multiple times while reading this book, I wanted to bonk all of these teens on the head with a rolled up copy of AARP Magazine. But then I would remember that, god, that is exactly the same kind of things my friends and I thought and did and talked about at 18. Keely’s crush on Dean was the perfect example. To Keely, Dean is the sexy, smart college guy who likes movies and books. Teen me would have absolutely D I E D if a guy like Dean had paid attention to me. Adult me couldn’t help but roll my eyes at everything Dean said and did. All this to say, Lund’s ability to capture the teen experience gets two thumbs up.

Bonus Factor: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

two pairs of feet showing under covers

No ifs, ands, or buts (though there are some butts) about it, this book is all about doing the deed, and it relays its message without judgement. I’ll admit that some of the characters in The Best Laid Plans can be judgmental and the double standards are out in full force, but it’s all part of the messaging. Also, Lund is careful to make sure her characters practice safe sex.

Relationship Status: One Night Stand

Book, you and I had a good time, no bones about it (heh heh heh). While I may not carry you close to my heart for the rest of my days, I’ll be able to look back on our time together fondly. I just might not remember all the details. But that’s okay: I’d walk of shame for you any time.

Literary Matchmaking

Sweethearts

This one’s practically FYA canon: Sara Zarr’s Sweethearts is about two childhood best friends who are reunited years later as teens.

The Museum of Heartbreak

For a great read with a GREAT boy best friend/maybe more, check out Meg Leder’s The Museum of Heartbreak.

Starry Eyes

Jenn Bennett’s Starry Eyes is another sex-positive story about best friends who have grown apart, only to find themselves lost in the woods together.

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the lame cranberry ones) for writing this review. Best Laid Plans 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.