Cover of You Can Go Your Own Way, with a white guy and girl sitting in the window of an pinball arcade

About the Book

Title: You Can Go Your Own Way
Published: 2021
Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Cover Story: Can We Get a Replay?
BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh
Talky Talk: He Said, She Said
Bonus Factors: Pinball, Shop Local
Relationship Status: Tilting Towards No

Cover Story: Can We Get a Replay?

Look, I know I should just be happy that we’ve moved away from Big Faces and Headless Girls in Ballgowns on YA covers. And I am, I swear! But… like… does every cover have to be illustrated now? Because while this artwork is accurate and totally fine, it could’ve been been SO much cooler, y’all. This is a book about pinball! How rad would it have been if the cover was designed to look like a pinball machine, but themed to the story?

Oh right, I can just hear the publisher now: But if it looks like a boy book, will girls read it?

Obviously I’m projecting a lot here so long story short, I’M READY FOR THE NEXT YA COVER TREND.

The Deal:

Adam and Whitney used to be best friends, but then Adam’s dad died, and Whitney joined the Plastics, and now they’re basically sworn enemies thanks to their competing family businesses in Philadelphia. On one side of the ring, we have Old City Pinball, a charming but worn-down arcade kept (barely) afloat by Adam and his mom. And on the other side, we have West Philly eSports, a massively successful cafe-turned-chain started by Whitney’s dad, who wants to buy Old City Pinball and turn it into another cafe.

All of the simmering tension between Adam and Whitney, usually reserved for a continuous Twitter war between the two brand accounts they run, boils over with the approach of the Old City Winter Festival and an impending snowstorm. As the two prep for the festival, they’re forced to interact with each other IRL—something they haven’t done in years—but that’s nothing compared to the quality time they’re about to get together thanks to Old Man Winter and an empty, snowed-in arcade.

BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh

BFF charm with Roger Murtagh from Lethal Weapon's face.

In very different ways, Adam and Whitney are both trying to hold on to their dads. Adam maintains that connection by obsessing, to the detriment of everything else, over his kingdom of pinball machines, while Whitney busts her ass handling social media for her dad’s company, since that seems to be the only way he’ll notice her. Though my heart went out to them, I couldn’t keep my eye rolls at bay due to their completely unprofessional behavior on Twitter. (I know, I know, that’s such a lame adult thing to say, thus the Roger charm!) Y’all, they fight about personal shizz using COMPANY ACCOUNTS. I get that they’re teenagers but this is why no company would let a teen run their corporate social media, mmmkay?!!!

Aside from that, I didn’t feel super drawn to either of them. Adam is secretly a sweetie, but he’s too closed-off and impulsive for me to put up with him like his actual bestie, Chris, does. (Real talk, Chris is hands down the best person in the book.) As for Whitney, I sympathized with her, but I didn’t get her, especially when it came to becoming friends with mean girls and taking years to understand that they suck. It doesn’t help that the author refers to her as “smirking” at least five times in the course of the book. Girl, what do you have to be so smug about?!

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Normally I’m a sucker for a Cameron Quick situation, not to mention enemistry, but the balance of animosity and emotional history, which is crucial for romances like this, felt off. We get all of the bickering without any of the sparks, and when Whitney and Adam finally admit their feelings, the moment lacks the depth it should have given their childhood friendship and the baggage they carry.

Talky Talk: He Said, She Said

Each chapter alternates between Adam and Whitney’s POV, and while their voices aren’t really distinguishable from each other, their narratives are lively, making for an easy breezy read.

Bonus Factor: Pinball

Two people, with their backs to the camera, playing Star Wars and Ghostbusters pinball machines

Any time I’m in an arcade, I gravitate towards pinball, and not just because I suck at video games. I love the mechanics, the movie tie-ins, and the whole retro vibe, so I had a blast following Adam as he tinkered and talked about the rarest and weirdest (Battleship Earth anyone?!) themed pinball machines.

Bonus Factor: Shop Local

Screenshot from Gilmore Girls of the Stars Hollow Video storefront

Old City is bustling with local shops, and the owners all know each other and interact on Twitter, which is cute. Between the bookstore with the adorable dog and the plant boutique (owned by Whitney’s mom), I could see myself spending a whole lotta of money in this neighborhood, so it’s probably good that it’s fictional. Oh shit, it’s not!

On that note, you can tell that Eric Smith reeeeeally loves Philadelphia. He references a ton of (what I assume are) real local establishments, to the point where it’s almost distracting. (But the book did make me wanna visit Philly again so well played, Mr. Smith).

Relationship Status: Tilting Towards No

Yes, this is my attempt at a pinball reference with the hope of letting this book down easy. We had some fun, but overall, the story of Whitney and Adam fell flat, both emotionally and romantically, for me. So no hard feelings but game over, man.

Literary Matchmaking

The Beginning of After

For a book that expertly balances grief and swoon (with a Cameron Quick to boot!), check out The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle.

Today Tonight Tomorrow

Get a sizzling dose of enemistry with Rachel Lynn Solomon’s Today Tonight Tomorrow.

Ghetto Cowboy

Explore a very different side of Philadelphia with Ghetto Cowboy by Jesse Joshua Watson.

FTC Full Disclosure: I got my free e-copy of this book from Harper Collins, but I received neither compensation nor cocktails in exchange for this review. You Can Go Your Own Way is available now.

Sarah splits her time between Dallas and 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.