How Not To Fall In Love
Spending the summer between her junior and senior years of high school working at her mother’s bridal boutique, Beneath the Veil, isn’t Harper’s dream, but it’s not all bad. She has a fun coworker; a window view of handsome classmate Felix, who works out nearby; and regular contact with best friend and neighbor Theo. Despite the gig, though, cued-white Harper is a “hardened cynic” who’s refused to date since being dumped by her first boyfriend. LARPer Theo, on the other hand, who’s of Puerto Rican, Greek, and Swedish heritage, is deeply romantic, crying over rom-coms, sending roses, and “falling in love with every girl who lets you buy her an ice cream cone.” Tired of having his heart broken, Theo agrees to let Harper teach him to date casually. While persuading readers that the protagonists are MFEO, Firkins (Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things) creates an adroit, even suspenseful dance of push and pull: Harper overthinks relationships and considers Felix’s appeal, and Theo fears being hurt. The resulting will-they-or-won’t-they not only gives rom-com formulas a playful refresh, it makes a strong case for the joys of medieval cosplay.