Thursday, November 25, 2010

Crash Test Love by Ted Michael

Release Date: 6/8/2010
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 352

The last thing Henry Arlington wants is a girlfriend. He's just very, very good with girls—reading their body language, knowing what they want to hear, and more importantly: getting them into the backseat of his car. But all that changes when he meets Garrett Lennox at one of the many Sweet Sixteen parties he crashes.

Garrett thinks she's done with guys. She was dumped by her ex when she moved from Chicago to Long Island, and now she realizes that she needs to find out who she is by herself, instead of with a boyfriend. What she really needs is some good friends.

Fortunately for Garrett, the J Squad—the "it" girls of East Shore High School—want her in their clique. All she has to do is pass one little test: get East Shore god Henry Arlington to take her to one of the biggest Sweet Sixteens of the year, then dump him in front of everyone.

Garrett has promised herself not to fall for another guy, so playing with Henry's heart shouldn't be hard. Right?

And Henry doesn't fall for girls, so when he and Garrett start to click, it doesn't matter. Does it?
As William Shakespeare once said, "Love is blind," or in this case, the lovers may be, as Henry and Garrett fall in love—and into the trap that awaits them. Because neither of them can even begin to see what the girls of Henry Arlington's past have in store.

This hilarious, sharp, and surprisingly thoughtful novel is the teen Wedding Crashers, filled with love, hope, laughs, and surprising insights about the terrifying process of falling in love.

From the premise alone, this book seems like it's lighthearted but Michaels does a fantastic job mixing in emotion and drama without taking away from the fun overall nature. The split narrative gives perfect insight to both Henry and Garrett and builds a connection to both for the reader. Also notable is the way the reader will side with and root for both characters even when they are on opposing sides because of the great voice Michaels gives them.

Henry comes off as a cocky jerk and a heartbreaker in the beginning but slowly, he sort of transforms into a person, and became more likeable. It was really interesting to see him grow and blossom. There is also an interesting contrast between the way Henry acts around his two best friends - Duke and Nigel, who were either pissing me off or making me seriously laugh out loud - and who he starts to be with Garrett.

Garrett shares a chemistry with Henry that is clear from the start and complicates the entire situation. Garrett is, at her core, a sweet, kind hearted person and this overdrives many others things she does. Though she could be considered a jerk for agreeing to set Henry up, Michaels pitches the scenario in a way to keep her sympathetic.

The plot plays out at a steady pace with a rubber band type motion that gives and takes between Henry and Garrett. Their quips and flirting are fantastic to read but more notable is the way they act when all pretenses are dropped and it is really just the two of them. The reader sees much more insight into both characters in these moments and feels the same despair as Garrett over what she ultimately intends to do to Henry.

As things progress, even the final climax gives both perspectives as does the tapering off and fall out. The ending is hard to predict and absolutely memorable and fitting for the story. Great characters with strong development, fantastic side characters that add plenty of amusement and driving points for the plot, and a great narrative and voice make Crash Test Love a cute but still thought provoking read.



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