by Audrey Couloumbis
To be published by Random House BFYR
on December 11, 2012
Source: e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.
Summary from Goodreads: It's 1977. Fifteen-year old Vinnie isn't having a good year. He's recovering from the worst case of galloping acne his dermatologist's ever seen. His girl moved to California without even saying good-bye. And the ink on his parents divorce papers is barely dry, when his mom announces that they're moving from Queens to Long Island.
The silver lining in all this is that they move next door to Patsy—everyone's dream girl. Not that she'd ever notice him. But when Vinnie calls Patsy one night, it leads to a chain of anonymous midnight conversations. Under the cover of darkness, Vinnie becomes Vincenzo, Patsy's mystery caller, and the two share a side of themselves they would never reveal in daylight and develop a surprisingly real connection (despite the lies it's built on). As Vinnie gets to know Patsy in real life though, it becomes clear both identities can't survive and he'll have to find a way to hangup the phone and step into the daylight.
My take: Sometimes, there's nothing like old-school YA, sans vampires, swoony insta-love, and dystopian doom and gloom. Not Exactly a Love Story was a refreshing change of pace. Sometimes I enjoy reading about a breathtakingly gorgeous kickbutt heroine with two hot guys drooling over her, but after that I'm SO ready for some realistic teen characters, complete with acne and insecurities and real-life problems.
Vinnie's mom has decided that she wants to reinvent herself, which involves ditching Vinnie's father and then falling in love with her son's gym teacher. As a result, Vinnie has to move from Queens to suburban Long Island and start at a new school. His new stepfather keeps trying to make him into a jock. He falls in love with his new neighbor, Patsy, and knows that a beautiful, popular girl like her will never go for a guy like him. And he has no superpowers. So he calls her ... anonymously. Yes, this is possible in the 1970s!
Two kinds of people make obscene phone calls. Perverts, and people who want something they can't have.Vinnie and Patsy begin to talk regularly. The form a bond. They share confidences. Patsy begins a game of trying to guess her mystery caller's name and ... of course, she wants to meet up.
Not Exactly a Love Story started out strong, as Vininie's wisecracks had me laughing out loud. I loved the fact that the storyline involving Vinnie's parents wasn't just a plot device, but a fully developed subplot. I thought the story started to drag a little in the middle, but then a sudden plot development re-energized things and I was dying to find out how this tale of unrequited love and courtship by proxy would resolve. Not Exactly a Love Story is a funny, touching look at a regular guy's quest for the girl next door.
Trivia question: This popular 1970s TV series featured a hilarious episode based on Cyrano De Bergerac in which one character falls in love with a girl and asks his older brother to help him woo her. Of course, she falls for the brother instead. Can you name the show and the characters?