How would you feel if the big promotion you’ve been working toward your entire career thus far would be decided by…whether you attended your high school reunion? Well, you don’t have to think too hard about it because Wattpad phenoms Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren tackle exactly that in Ellie Is Cool Now.
Ellie Jenkins wasn't one of the cool kids in high school, but now she’s writing on a hit TV show about…the cool kids in high school. When her showrunner decides her writing has become too cynical (and finds out her ten year high school reunion is coming up), he dangles a promotion to co-executive producer in front of her to force her to take that trip down memory lane. Begrudgingly, Ellie does so with an “Ellie Is Cool Now” list created by her friends to complete. As she navigates her old hometown and the people she left behind, she begins to realize that you can’t just rewrite the script in real life.
At first glance, this book is the thing of nightmares! Being forced to go to your high school reunion? Gag me. But Victoria and Faith are able a weave a story that makes you not only nostalgic for high school, but it also makes you consider attending your high school reunion. But then, if you're anything like me, you shudder at the thought and just keep reading about someone else to has to go through that nightmare instead.
Ellie is a bit of a curmudgeon and doesn’t really seem to like people. Now that's my kind of protagonist! Not only that, but since the book was told from Ellie’s POV, we were able to watch her anxious mind work and, phew, I’ve never felt like someone was more of a kindred spirit. Her outward demeanor in front of others was so drastically different from her inner monologue and that was something that, as someone with an anxious brain, I was drawn to and was able to relate to on a deeper level.
I don’t know if this was the intention, but Victoria and Faith had me not only questioning if I’d attend my next high school reunion, but also a lot of other things about high school. Ellie finds herself realizing things were different in high school than she thought they were which led me to start having an existential crisis of my own and wondering if I presented myself differently, if people perceived me differently, if how I thought people perceived me was different from what I always thought. And while yes, this was a bit of a crazy spiral, it’s also a good reminder that we are always our harshest critics and to give ourselves grace if needed (but also to make sure that you reflect on things and make sure you aren’t actually the bad guy when you think you’re being the good guy).
Victoria and Faith are very clearly a well-oiled machine. The writing is smooth and seamless, never feeling like there was a battle between two different voices or writing styles. As an added bonus for the nerd in me, there were so many pop culture references that I spent a good chuck of the time I was reading just giggling like a schoolgirl and feeling like Captain America in the first Avengers movie - “I understood that reference.” (There was one point where I literally almost woke up my child from bursting out into laughter...brava ladies!)
Ellie Is Cool Now hits shelves on March 21, 2023. You can preorder a signed and personalized copy from The Ripped Bodice (which will also come with an adorable Ellie bookmark!) or grab a regular one from my Bookshop affiliate link.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well!