An internet-obsessed teenager
discovers a new life offline in this YA romantic comedy.
Boston high school junior Meagan is
always on her cellphone, texting or updating her profile on her favorite dating
site, Passion. This leads to her share of troubles, like a doctor
diagnosing her with radial styloid tenosynovitis (aka “texting thumb”). Things
come to a head after Meagan texts during an exam, and the teacher’s accusation
of cheating results in a suspension. The teen’s parents respond by sending her
to stay with her gay grandfathers in Haydenville, Massachusetts, for the summer.
She helps her grandfathers do work around the house, where internet service is
spotty. But when Meagan heads to town for some covert online surfing, she texts
and drives her way into an accident. To regain car privileges, she temporarily gives
up her phone and attends a local Netaholics Anonymous meeting. Surprisingly, it
has perks in the form of a couple of hotties, Derek and Jonathan. Meagan likes
them both, but her agreeing to a date with each guy for the NA potluck dinner
is accidental, thanks to unreliable cell service. To distract the boys, she
invites her best friend, Sheila, to Haydenville. But Sheila only complicates
matters, turning into a Mother Nature-embracing, anti-technology Luddite
virtually overnight. In the meantime, Meagan may be falling for one of the two
guys. As she’s long preferred online relationships, virginal Meagan, not quite
ready for physical intimacy, is torn between eluding romance or surrendering to
Adams’ (KABOOM!, 2016, etc.)
tale lambasts social media-crazed teens in often amusing ways. For example,
Meagan, sans her cell, feels “the sensation of the phantom phone” in her hand
and periodically moves her thumbs as if texting Sheila. Nevertheless, the
author doesn’t completely condemn the internet, as it’s apparent Meagan may
only be online to escape neglectful parents who are on their phones as much as
she is. Consequently, her grandfathers, who express interest in her potential
love life, are all the more endearing. One of them, Udder, even adopted his
nickname from Meagan (her childish attempt to repeat her dad’s designation of “your
other grandpa”). Equally memorable Sheila is abrasive but smart. She astutely
questions a person’s ability to sustain an online presence with a life offline:
“You can’t text the way you’re supposed to and hold hands at the same time, can
you?” The story’s humor is predominantly via dialogue, like Meagan’s Gramps
steering conversations to the sex lives of such things as worms and fireflies.
But some of the comedy is slapstick: Meagan intermittently injures the guy she
likes, including spilling hot coffee on his crotch. The narrative also comes
courtesy of Meagan’s first-person voice, which is descriptive and generally sarcastic.
She says of her parents, “When it came to the issues that were driving me
completely insane, they’d be about as helpful as a porcupine in a hot-air
balloon.” Romance, though more understated, is discernible, and Derek and
Jonathan are both immensely likable.
A witty and tech-savvy love story
with just the right amount of charm.