Title The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions)
Author Amy Spalding
Published April 5th, 2016 by Poppy
Pages 320 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Part of a Series? No
Source & Format Received an advance reader copy from the author for review (Thanks, Amy!), Paperback
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon.com ● Chapters
A ridiculously cute, formerly-famous new guy dropping into your life? It’s practically every girl’s dream.
But not Jules McCallister-Morgan’s.
I realize that on paper I look like your standard type-A, neurotic, overachiever. And maybe I am. But I didn’t get to be the editor of my school’s long-revered newspaper by just showing up*. I have one main goal for my senior year – early acceptance into my first choice Ivy League college – and I will not be deterred by best friends, moms who think I could stand to “live a little,” or boys.
At least, that was the plan before I knew about Alex Powell**.
And before Alex Powell betrayed me***.
I know what you’re thinking: Calm down, Jules. But you don’t understand. This stuff matters. This is my life. And I’m not going down without a fight.
* Okay, I sort of did. But it’s a sore subject.
** I mean, I guess everyone knows about Alex Powell? Two years ago, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about viral video boy band sensation Chaos 4 All. Two years ago, Alex Powell was famous.
*** Some people think I’m overreacting. But this. Means. War.
Filled with romance, rivalry, and passive-aggressive dog walking, Amy Spalding delivers a hilariously relatable high school story that’s sure to have you falling for The New Guy.
“I guess I didn’t care about tradition,” Thatcher says. “Sorry, Jules. But I do care about not letting TALON win. This means -”
“Can I say it?” I interrupt. I have always wanted a moment like this, and it’s here! Maybe TALON has actually given me a gift. I get to be the underdog, and everyone knows that the underdog is the one to root for. I’ve been gearing up my whole life to be the underdog.
Thatcher grins at me. “Go for it. You’ve earned it.”
“This means war.”
When Jules McAllister-Morgan is tasked with showing around the newest student at Eagle Vista Academy as part of her role as vice president of the school’s reception committee, it seems as though her senior year is beginning just like any other. But this is no ordinary day, and the boy in question is no ordinary student. A former teen idol who was once a member of the pop music sensation, Chaos 4 All, who were best known for their one-hit-wonder, “Want 2 B Ur Boy”, Alex Powell is a complication that Jules never expected. After all, Jules’ five-year-plan never accounted for boys, least of all ones whose handsome good looks, easy smiles, and brushes with fame make her feel more confused and unsure than she ever has before. It seems their newfound romance is over before it ever truly begun, however, when Alex accepts a position on TALON, a televised news series that’s in direct competition with The Crest, the school newspaper to which Jules has recently been appointed editor-in-chief. The Talon’s fresh new approach to journalism quickly snags the attention of the student body and seems to sound the death knell of The Crest – one of the school’s oldest institutions – and print media at large, and potentially jeopardizes everything Jules has worked so hard for. Jules will be forced to reconcile her burgeoning feelings for Alex with their rival organization’s competing goals in a story that proves that all’s fair in love, war, and extracurriculars.
“Yes,” I say to myself. “Victory will be mine.”
“Jules,” Mr. Wheeler says. “I can hear you.”
There are few authors whose work I trust or adore more than Amy Spalding. I read the author’s previous work, 2015’s Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys), no fewer than three times last year and am always quick to recommend it to friends and family alike. There is a lamentable lack of light-hearted, feel-good titles in the young adult contemporary market today, and Spalding’s work fills this niche perfectly with stories that emphasize family, friendship, and fun without ever comprising the quality or resonance of the novels’ greater messages about personal discovery and connection. The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions) follows this brilliant, familiar formula perfectly, introducing a bright, ambitious protagonist, a cast of warm, supportive secondary characters and a lively, enjoyable story that is sure to leave readers smiling long after they turn the final page.
“We love that you care about everything so much,” Mom says. “But you have to give yourself a break, Jules.”
“No one finds victory while giving herself a break.”
“Do you hear yourself?” Darcy asks.
“Yes. I sound inspiring.”
One of the many areas in which Amy Spalding excels as a writer is in the creation of passionate, enthusiastic heroines and Jules McAllister-Morgan is no exception. Responsible, driven, determined, hard-working, confident and competitive, Jules is a girl who thrives on new challenges and deadlines and is unapologetic about her goals and the lengths to which she will go to achieve them. Despite the air of capability and diligence Jules projects, however, Spalding is also careful to imbue her protagonist with insecurities, flaws and quirks that make her charming and deeply sympathetic. While Jules’ unbridled ambition and the intensity with which she pursues her goals may be perceived by some to be obnoxious or extreme, it quickly becomes clear that Jules is overcompensating for other areas in her life in which she feels lacking. Jules’ single-minded focus on the future prevents her from ever delving too deeply into the feelings of self-doubt that plague her and the fear of not being good enough, cool enough, or experienced enough for those around her. Jules’ lack of confidence in what she offers as an individual, instead of as a student, editor, or ‘responsible citizen’, permeates her relationships with her parents, her friends, and her new boyfriend and speaks to an anxiety and vulnerability that will prove familiar to readers of all ages also struggling to find their way.
I never would have known before Alex that laughing with a boy could sometimes feel just as perfect as kissing one, if he’s the right boy.
I guess technically Alex is the wrong boy, but I’m pretending for now that isn’t true.
In addition to The New Guy‘s tenacious and spirited heroine, there are a great number of other elements with which to recommend Spalding’s latest publication. Jules has two mothers, Lisa and Darcy, who are engaged, active parents who offer their daughter the unconditional love, support, advice and differing perspective Jules so desperately needs. Spalding’s incorporation of these characters allows for a diverse and inclusive perspective of the family unit not often explored on the young adult market in which heterosexulality is all too regularly, however incorrectly, presented as the default. With explicit discussions of safe sex practices and the inclusion of a trip to the gynaecologist, The New Guy also encourages young readers to have an educated and responsible attitude about their bodies, their sexuality, and their relationships.
When I hear about war heroes, they don’t emerge victorious from easily won battles. TALON might have all the attention now, but I won’t let my side down. I will hold my face at neutral while cameras are around. And before long, I will win this war.
I don’t want to think about what will happen if I don’t.
The New Guy is a fun, fast-paced romantic comedy that combines the nostalgic charm of The Backstreet Boys with the combative chemistry of You’ve Got Mail. Brought to life with a youthful, vibrant voice all her own, Amy Spalding has once again proven why her work is a valuable gift to young readers everywhere. Spalding perfectly captures the everyday hardships and victories of adolescence and the unexpected surprises that happen while we’re busy making plans. With a winning combination of a flawed but no less formidable heroine, effervescent secondary characters and a satisfying, heart-warming conclusion, The New Guy is sure to prove one of the standout feel-good titles on the year.
Still not sure this is the right book for you? Why not listen to what some other bloggers had to say about it?
● Ali @ Arctic Books wrote “Overall, The New Guy was a cute read that reminded me a lot of the many stories on Wattpad…If you’re looking for a sweet, summer read, pick this one up!” (Read the rest of the review Here!)
● Jaime Lynn @ The Best Books Ever wrote “A cute read with interesting characters and a high school setting that is very ambitious, The New Guy offers a fun and quick read perfect to make you smile.” (Read the rest of the review Here!)
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