Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt follows bookworm Merrilee Campbell as she transitions from her all-girls school to a co-educational elite private school. Merrilee hopes that her new school promises boys as amazing in the book she reads. Within the first day, Merrilee meets a boy who sweeps her off her feet. However, he may not be what he seems on the surface.
I was excited, but also apprehensive when I read the description for Bookish Boyfriends. I think this book will speak to many readers, but I also worried that since this book featured a freshman in high school, I wouldn’t be able to relate. While I do think I would have enjoyed this book more if I read it at a younger age, it was still an overall cute story that has companion novel potential.
One aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was the main character, Merrilee. However, I do think some readers will find her a little annoying until the second half of the book. Merrilee has an outgoing and bubbly personality which I feel like has become less common in YA, so I really appreciated reading about her personality in this book. That being said, Merrilee is a huge romantic in this book which grants some long-winded descriptions of people and places at the beginning of the novel. While her personality and delusions about romance may off-put some readers, I enjoyed that Merrilee actually acted like her age.
Another part of this book that I really enjoyed was the message. This book includes both elements of Romeo and Juliet as well as Pride and Prejudice. By reading and responding to both of these books and experiencing them in real life, Merrilee develops a more realistic approach to romance and love. As a result, Merrilee does a grow and mature throughout this novel which will make her more likable and relatable for readers initially put-off by her.
While I did like some aspects of this novel, I also had a few problems. In this book, I felt like the side characters weren’t extremely well-developed, so they felt more like stereotypes than actual people. Merrilee’s first love interest, while supposed to be over-the-top, came across as way too cartoonish and I found myself wanting to skip over any parts that included him. Even Merrilee’s eventual love interest was a cardboard cutout Darcy, who as a result, didn’t make his relationship with Merrilee particularly memorable. Especially with so many side characters in this book, I needed a little more to easily differentiate the characters.
I also wanted a little more of the romance characters coming to life part of the book. It is suggested in this book that when Merrilee’s teacher gives reading assignments to particular students, the book practically comes to life in front of them. Merrilee mentions seeing some of the teacher’s stuff having a “magic glow” and constantly emphasizes the school’s name (Hero High), but it’s always brushed off in the book. I think this book might be trying to go for some “magical” element, but it was never clearly defined so I don’t know whether it it’s just a teacher’s intuition or actual magic. Additionally, the book never clearly defined which literary character each modern character represented which made the book difficult to follow at points. Still, I think whatever it is definitely gives the book some series potential with new characters seeing new books manifest in their own lives.
Overall, Bookish Boyfriends was a cute book, but it’s one that I think I would have enjoyed more as a younger YA reader. While there were parts of this book that I enjoyed, there were also many aspects of characters and the plot that needed fleshed out for me to understand the story better. I give Bookish Boyfriends three out of five stars.
*I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.