A review by lindick
Amelia Westlake, by Erin Gough

5.0

4.5 stars rounded up.

For the first 80% of this book, I was like WOW FIVE STARS FOR SURE, and although for some reason the end didn’t charm me *quite* as much as the rest of it (hence the .5 decrease), I still loved it overall.

The premise is gold: a naive goody-two shoes (a total Rachel Berry type) and a self-righteous trouble maker join forces to create a fictional persona to carry out a series of pranks that point out the misogyny, elitism, and general hypocrisy of their private school.

Let’s get my quibbles out of the way first:
I almost didn’t read this because the summary on the flap mentioned Harriet had a girlfriend going in. This is one of my, not absolute dealbreakers, but I guess you could say squicks. It creates cheap drama and makes me less sympathetic towards the characters and also just is distracting to me. In this case, the gf was perfectly terrible and fun to hate, but still, the relationship went on MUCH too long. It didn’t really track emotionally, and I think was really just done to set up 2 plot points. And it cheapened the big romantic moment to know that Harriet (somehow) (STILL) had a girlfriend, and I was grumpy to be distracted by that niggling fact, because I DID really ship the main f/f romance.

The other thing is, I know Harriet is supposed to be naive and thinking the best of everyone, but her supposed best friend called this other girl in school a racist name (not a slur but like a purposeful butchering/mocking of her name), and Harriet was basically like, oh I never noticed that was bad. Which is weird, because in other moments she’s super aware, like when she notes that immigrant women often are most in need of domestic violence aid. That said, peer pressure is real, and standing up to friends is hard, and she eventually DOES say something, so I accept it, even if I don’t love it.

Ok, now, the (overwhelming good):
This book was SO clever. I loved the writing style, and the pacing and plotting was great — it’s so hard to depict a series of pranks in a way that keeps the readers’ attention the whole time, and this totally did. The characterization was great, with both POV characters being just the right amount insufferable and lovable. I was laughing and rooting for them super hard.
Also, the end was more bittersweet than I expected, but I actually really liked that, because it felt realistic and showed actual consequences for some of the stuff that had happened. And it still had really satisfying beats in terms of the fallout of some of the pranks and also the romance.

Overall, I definitely recommend!