We Are the Perfect Girl by Ariel Kaplan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A charming, fresh, and sharply written retelling of Cyrano De Bergerac where friendship, not romance, is at the heart of the story. Aphra and Bethany are best friends. Bethany is painfully shy—she can’t string 4 words together when attempting to speak to her crush Greg. Aphra is smart, funny, and outgoing, but does not consider herself attractive mainly due to her nose (naturally). In the midst of trying to help Bethany get together with Greg, she inadvertently begins an anonymous relationship with him online, which she then parlays into assuming the Cyrano role, feeding Bethany lines during dates and composing text messages for her. As an overwhelmed Bethany tries to go along with the plan, Aphra falls harder and harder for Greg.
Even readers unfamiliar with the original story will understand both the folly of their plan and the inevitable blowup that will ensue. The trick is making us care. Kaplan accomplishes this feat and more in her deftly constructed novel. With its swift pacing, humor, and fully-realized characters, readers will be swept up. Far from simply zany, the substantive plot makes clear Aphra’s journey through anger and pain, and her awakening to the kinds of love that matter most. While its seeming conventionality may be a turn off for some, readers who don’t mind romantic entanglement mixed in with their strong, intelligent female protagonists will find much to enjoy. -Ms. Pelman
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