Certain things are clear in redheaded white high schooler Scottie Zajac’s world: one, the varsity girls’ basketball team, for which she plays shooting guard, doesn’t matter, since they have no real coach, no budget, and no cheerleaders. And two, her town, low-key Grandma Earl, Ga., is the object of mockery for richer, hipper neighbor Candlehawk. So it hurts all the more when the manipulative, blue-eyed Tally Gibson, “the first and only person ever loved,” dumps her, transfers to Candlehawk Preparatory to play basketball, and returns to beat Scottie’s team. Scottie is determined to get revenge, and she soon gets the chance during her senior year—in the form of persuading popular cheer captain and homecoming queen Irene Abraham, who is Indian American, to pretend to be her girlfriend. Things are never easy when love is involved, and Quindlen (Late to the Party) offers a queer refresh of multiple romance genre standbys: enemies to friends (Irene once had Scottie’s car towed), fake dating, sports romance, and surmounting a broken heart. Add in a supportive family whose members actually like each other, and the result is a satisfyingly feminist rom-com mash-up. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
*"A little sweet, a little sharp, this romance will resonate with readers looking for an emotional journey."Booklist, starred review
"A cast of characters you'll fall in love with and a love story you'll be obsessed withShe Drives Me Crazy is one of my favorite rom-coms of the year. Trust me when I say you need this book." Leah Johnson, author of You Should See Me in a Crown
"Hilarious and full of heart, with a sizzling romance. SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY nails both the hate to love and fake dating tropes with expert execution. I want to live in this town and be friends with these characters so badly, and I'm deeply sad that I can't."
Rachael Allen, author of A Taxonomy of Love and The Summer of Impossibilities
"She Drives Me Crazy is the perfect romcom. It’s the kind of romance that is sizzling with chemistry, but still manages to be utterly earnest and heartfelt. A must-read for every romcom fan.” Adiba Jaigirdar, author of The Henna Wars
Praise for Late to the Party:
"An absolutely stunning, but also incredibly important novel about best friends and discovering who you are." Mason Deaver, bestselling author of I Wish You All the Best
“Perfectly captures the joys and hopes and thrills of being a real, authentic teenager . . . A fantastic read for queer teens today.” Kacen Callender, Stonewall and Lambda Award–winning author This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story
“Late to the Party is right on time to being your favorite read. I didn’t want my time with Quindlen’s characters to end.” Sara Farizan, Lambda Award–winning author of If You Could Be Mine
"Kelly Quindlen has written a slow-burning, exquisite book well-worth savoring." Aminah Mae Safi, author of Tell Me How You Really Feel
"A deeply heartfelt and emotionally honest celebration of late bloomers, queer solidarity, and friendships both old and new. This book has a permanent place in my heart." Dahlia Adler, author of Under the Lights.
"A love letter to late bloomers, Late to the Party combines teenage angst with first loves and second chances and emphasises that true friends will always be there for you even as you discover new parts of yourself." The Nerd Daily
"Heartfelt and fun, Quindlen’s latest (Her Name in the Sky, 2014) brings together all the angst, excitement, and uncertainty of the teenage years in an LGBTQ+ friendly package. Fans of Becky Albertalli are sure to love this sometimes painfully relatable heroine and her journey of self discovery. Codi Teller may be late to the party, but readers will be happy she showed up." Booklist
"Recommended for LGBTQ teens."School Library Journal
"Quindlen (Her Name in the Sky) deftly conveys both the awkwardness of outgrowing an old life without having a clue how to move toward a new one. Publisher Weekly
Gr 8 Up—After losing spectacularly to her ex-girlfriend's basketball team, Scottie is at her lowest. However, a minor fender-bender creates the opportunity for Scottie to team up with the gorgeous (and supremely annoying) cheerleader, Irene. Until the basketball district championship, they'll fake-date to make her ex jealous. Irene may be insufferable, but Scottie can handle a few months of hanging out with her. With a Hallmark movie—esque Southern small-town backdrop, Scottie shines as the basketball-loving, queer lead to root for as she grows into a stronger, wiser, and more empathetic human being. Building off vintage rom-com tropes, Scottie and Irene's story arc is delightfully upbeat while still leaving room for serious moments. Both girls are at different stages of moving on and discovering who they are after devastating break-ups. This leads to many clashes of consciousness, which in turn fuels healthy communication and understanding, creating characters who feel not only human but are highly relatable. The heart of the story is simple but sweet: If you want to get the girl, do it the right way…and maybe do one big cheesy romantic gesture. Scottie is white and Irene is Indian American; supporting characters range in skin tone and ethnicity. VERDICT Pulling vibes from classic 1990s movies such as She's All That and 10 Things I Hate About You, this campy and fun queer romance is a breath of fresh air.—Emily Walker, Lisle Lib. Dist., IL
Star basketball player Scottie Zajac begins her senior year of high school heartbroken.
Her ex-girlfriend, Tally Gibson, ended their relationship right before transferring to a fancy high school in a neighboring town, and the breakup has left Scottie feeling like a shadow of herself—so much so that her sister calls her “a walking insecurity.” In an effort to get Tally’s attention—and possibly to win her back—Scottie bribes cheerleading captain and homecoming queen Irene Abraham to pretend that the two of them are dating. Irene agrees even though it means she’ll have to come out at school (Irene is already out to her family). At first, the plan works even better than expected: Tally finds out about the couple and texts Scottie out of jealousy, and the cheerleading squad starts showing up to the girls basketball games, giving the team the confidence they need to play better and better. But then Scottie and Irene start to develop real feelings for each other, feelings that are complicated by the fact that Scottie isn’t over Tally and Irene harbors a secret of her own. This optimistic romance is a page-turner full of quippy dialogue and emotional authenticity. Scottie, Irene, and their group of friends are complex, well-developed characters whose empathy and introspection are refreshing. Most characters are White; Irene is Indian American, and Scottie’s best friend is Black.
A gripping queer interracial romance about secrets, lies, and healing. (Romance. 12-18)