Shuffle, Repeat: A Review

Shuffle, Repeat by Jen KleinJune knows with every fiber of her being that high school doesn’t matter. The friends she makes, the traditions, the classes–none of it matters in the long run. At the start of her senior year of high school, June already has her eye on starting college when her real life can begin.

Oliver loves high school. He revels in the rituals like prom and sports, the traditions like senior pranks. Oliver plans to make the most of his high school experience and be able to look back on every moment fondly when he gets older.

June and Oliver have known each other for years, an annoying side effect of their mothers being best friends. But they don’t get to know each other until the start of their senior year when their mothers arrange for Oliver to drive June to school. Every day.

Awkwardly quiet drives slowly begin to shift to heated debates about music, musings about life, and more. As they get to know each other, both June and Oliver will have to decide if young love has a place in a world where high school doesn’t much matter. Unless maybe it does . . . in Shuffle, Repeat (2016) by Jen Klein.

In this standalone contemporary, Klein throws together complete opposites and explores what might happen next. Despite much of this story taking place during car rides, Shuffle, Repeat has a strong sense of place with evocative descriptions of June and Oliver’s quaint town.

June and Oliver are both white but the book is filled with a varied cast of misfits among their unique groups of friends. June’s best friend–a gay boy with Indian family–gets an especially heartwarming side story throughout the novel.

Philosophical discussions about what matters in life contrast well with vocal discussions of music and classic high school moments (the book begins with June nervously making her way to prom and then backtracks to the start of the school year).

June is an often abrasive first-person narrator. She is not afraid to state her opinions and she is stubborn when those convictions are challenged. She jumps to conclusions and is, frankly, judgemental when it comes to her preconceived notions about Oliver.

But Shuffle, Repeat isn’t about June being right all the time. Instead, through her relationship with Oliver and generally moving through the school year, June begins to realize she might have been wrong about a lot of things.

Shuffle, Repeat is a smart story with a fun romance. Snappy dialogue, an honest-to-a-fault narrator, and plenty of senior year shenanigans make this a great summer read. Recommended.

Possible Pairings: Never, Always, Sometimes by Adi Alsaid, The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando, Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom, A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, P. S. I Like You by Kasie West

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Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick: A Review

Au Revoir Crazy European Chick by Joe SchreiberPerry Stormaire had no intention whatsoever of attending his senior prom. Not when his band had their first ever actual gig in an actual club in New York City.

Unfortunately his parents have other ideas when the foreign exchange student staying with Perry’s family expresses her wish to attend prom before going home to Lithuania.

Why Gobija Zaksauskas wants to attend prom is anyone’s guess. Frumpy, quiet, not to mention epileptic it seems like Gobi’s entire mission as a foreign exchange student was to blend into the background.

All of that changes on prom night.

As Gobi embarks on a night-long mission of vengeance, Perry is dragged along–sometimes literally–for the ride. A week ago Perry’s biggest problems were choosing a college and working up the nerve to defy his father. Now, Perry isn’t even sure if he’ll make it through his prom night in one piece in Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick (2011) by Joe Schreiber.

Though completely improbable and often needing a lot of suspension of disbelief, Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick remains a fast exciting read of pure escapism with refreshing humor and oddly authentic characters for such an outlandish story.

Schreiber has created a fun blend of unlikely adventure and the more usual coming-of-age story. Structured with college essay question at the start of each chapter, Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick perfectly captures the panic and scrambling so often associated with the college search and application process.