About the Book

Title: Everybody Knows Your Name
Published: 2015
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Cover Story: Cute
BFF Charms: Platinum, Love
Talky Talk: He Said, She Said
Bonus Factors: Reality TV, Hollywood
Relationship Status: Hooked

Cover Story: Cute

I’m about to sound ungrateful, because this artwork avoids all of the usual YA cover clichés, and even the illustrations of the two main characters are accurate. I should be happy! But…it’s just so cute, you guys. And while the story is fun, there’s nothing twee about it, so this cover feels like a disservice.

Also, good luck getting this song out of your head.

The Deal:

Spotlight is a new reality TV show that’s basically a combo of The Voice and The Real World in which teen contestants live together while singing in a televised competition. Magnolia landed a spot because her stage mom wants her to be famous. Ford landed a spot because he’s desperate to get away from his white trash family and out of his dead end town. Both of them see the show as a doorway to transformation—Magnolia into a girl who isn’t just the loner with the dead dad, and Ford into a boy with an actual future.

When the two meet, sparks fly, but as Spotlight grants their wish of metamorphosis, their blossoming romance falls into the shadows. (See what I did there?)

BFF Charm: Platinum

BFF platinum charm

Magnolia reminds me of April on Parks & Rec sans the mean streak. So, obviously, I love her. She’s darkly thoughtful and, at times, sad, but she’s not one for taking a dip in the angst pool. Her sense of humor is frankly too dry to get wet:

But tonight I don’t care if people see me as melancholy or moody or gloomy. Or tomorrow. I mean, every single one of the seven dwarves didn’t need to be bouncing off the walls. There’s a downbeat Care Bear. Why isn’t there the same understanding of actual people?

I deeply admire her struggle for identity and her courage to stay true to the self that she eventually discovers. My affection for her is so great, it even surpasses my jealousy over the fact that she gets to make out with Ford. Speaking of…

BFF Charm: Love

BFF charm that says "true love"

Damn, Andrea Seigel and Brent Bradshaw have totally got my number. Ford is a former bad boy who legally emancipated himself from his effed up family, who fortunately never managed to beat the sweet earnestness out of him. He’s tough but genuine, and it doesn’t hurt that he can totally rock a leather jacket. Sure, he did some things that made me VERY UPSET, but at the end of the day…I’d still hit that.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Ford is hot, in case you didn’t catch my drift, but a truly compelling romance can’t stand on the back of one attractive character. (Looking at you, Stephenie Meyer.) Thankfully, Magnolia is freaking awesome, and it’s easy to see why Ford is drawn to her, as she is to him. Their sizzlin’ chemistry is on full display, whether they’re engaged in extremely sexy makeout sessions or exchanges thick with longing, like this one:

“Maggie,” Ford calls as I’m continuing down the hallway. I look over.

What I’m saying is, when you read this book, keep your smelling salts close by.

Talky Talk: He Said, She Said

The narrative alternates between Magnolia and Ford, with some timeline overlaps that occasionally made me impatient because I was dying to know how the other character would react to certain developments. This is a good thing, of course, because it means that I got supremely invested in the story. Distinct and conversational, the voices of both characters are infused with winning personality that peppers the pages with insights like this one from Magnolia:

People who have seen me cry are confused sometimes because I don’t hiccup or sob. I just get a very wet face, very fast. I’m like one of those fountain walls at a restaurant.

While the narrators delve into serious emotional territory, their reflections never slow down the delicious pace of the plot, and it only took me a few hours to devour this juicy yet substantive morsel of a novel.

Bonus Factor: Reality TV

Screenshot from Jersey Shore, with Snooki on a duck-shaped phone

Reality television is totally the new black dystopia of YA, and I am SO okay with that. I had a blast during The Voice performance segments, especially when it came to the celebrity judges, and while The Real World aspect of Spotlight didn’t induce the drama I was expecting, it provided a fascinating look at how reality TV is scripted and produced. Also, it meant that Ford and Magnolia were often free of chaperones so there could be plenty of K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

Bonus Factor: Hollywood

Screenshot from Entourage, with a now famous actor and his buddies walking the red carpet

From B-list celebrity parties sponsored by energy drinks to red carpet disasters, this book is a hilarious slice of life in Tinseltown. I loved the cults of fandom, I loved the backstage banality, and I especially loved Catherine, the producer of Spotlight. She’s a no-nonsense gal who owns a velour tracksuit with “DON’T” embroidered on the chest* and says super LA things like, “I’m going to need you all to pay attention to the rundown because I will open a wrist if I have to repeat it.” Hello, new role model in life.

*Where can I buy this?

Relationship Status: Hooked

I wish this book was a TV show that I could watch every week. (Hell, I’d even settle for the reruns.) It’s funny, it’s smart, and it’s wildly entertaining. I had a blast on my journey with Magnolia and Ford, and I’m praying that they’ll be back for another season.**

**Yes, that’s a hint for a sequel. Pretty please!

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Viking Books. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. Everybody Knows Your Name is available now.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.