by Alice Oseman
To be published
on March 28, 2017
by Harper Teen
Synopsis from Goodreads: What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong? Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken. Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…She has to confess why Carys disappeared…Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets. It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.My take: LOVED this. Frances has always been, as her friends say, a "study machine." She's Head Girl at her school and aiming for Oxford. Bus Frances has a secret - she has an alternate-ego online, where she can be herself, which includes sharing her obsession with an obscure podcast called Universe City (a pun on University). When she figures out the identity of the mysterious creator of the podcast, she can't help but try to get closer to him - a move that may endanger the anonymity they both cherish and force them out of their emotional comfort zones.
There are four main characters in this book: Frances, her former best friend Carys, Carys' brother Aled, and Aled's best friend (and Head Boy) Daniel. I loved that the characters first seemed like stereotypical YA novel characters: overachiever, nerdy head boy, quirky genius, rebellious girl. But all of these characters came to reveal things about themselves and their relationships with one another that prove that you shouldn't judge anyone on a superficial first impression. I also loved how real-life messy their relationships were. The writing is interesting too -- chapters are short and incorporate a few Universe City transcripts.
All in all, can't say enough good things about this. It was a fantastic coming-of age story with interesting characters, complex relationships and a great message about being true to oneself. Hope you will give it a try!