Expected Publication: September 6th, 2016 by Sky Pony Press
*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinions stated below.
Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.
So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).
As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.
Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.
You know those times when you wait a week and a half to write your review? And all you've got is some vague thoughts and memories of it? ("Yes, but that's why you take notes!" you say. Indeed! But MY NOTES ARE JUST AS VAGUE.) And I think that pretty much sums up my thoughts about How to Make Out: fun but not very memorable just because it didn't, like, tug at my heartstrings or anything.
I love the premise of this book. Renley needs money to go to New York, so she makes a how-to blog where she charges for answers once she gets it running. Which she appears to do very, very fast. I found this bit to be very unrealistic - why would somebody pay for her answer on how to make out or how to tie a tie when all of those answers are available online for free? I would think it was super sketchy if someone was making me pay for that, but I digress. It's fiction. I got over it. (But IF ONLY WE ALL GOT FOLLOWERS AS QUICKLY AS SHE DOES? I have literally never made a cent from this blog in 5 years like. Come on. Here she is making money for a trip to New York.)
Of course, when someone asks Renley how to make out, she has to go to her best friend/neighbor and get him to teach her because she has no idea what she's doing. I loved the scenes between them and the dynamic, how close they are. But here's the problem - Drew is in love with her, and she knows that. She knows all about it. He knows she knows. And yet she still asks him to do this for her, still asks him to help her with Seth, the guy she's interested in. (Who has a girlfriend. It's messy.) She basically always ignores his feelings for her. On top of that, Drew has girls in and out of his bedroom constantly, Renley doesn't like it, etc. etc. It was kind of annoying.
That being said, I want to repeat that I really loved the dynamic between them. They had a great friendship otherwise and seriously great chemistry and I was really rooting for them. I SHIPPED IT.
Renley and Seth, however? No chemistry. Nada. Can I just throw him out a window to get him out of the way? You know, in a nice way?
Renley makes a lot of mistakes throughout the course of the novel. And yes, it can get annoying, and yes, sometimes I wanted to scream at her, but I appreciated it - she wasn't anywhere near perfect. I've definitely made a lot of mistakes, and they're not always teeny tiny ones you can forget about the next day. I think some people might get really frustrated by her, but she's a teenager and by the end, she seems to have learned her lesson. I wish that part had been just a bit longer so it showcased her growth more, but the point is that she does learn. I don't really like the way it happens because it's completely forced on her rather than her learning and growing on her own, but whatever.
tl;dr: How to Make Out is a super quick and fun contemporary (with its fair share of deeper emotions) with an adorable best friend who I myself might be a little bit in love with. 3.5 stars.