Leigh Ann Kopans
[February 11, 2013]
1 crush on your best friend +
1 gorgeous, scheming new girl +
1 Mathletics competition =
1 big mess
Ashley Price doesn’t have much in life after being bullied so hard she had to leave her old school to live with her aunt and uncle in Pittsburgh. But the camera she borrowed from her best friend and secret crush Brendan, and her off the charts math abilities, make things a lot more bearable. Plus, since Brendan is the captain, making the school Mathletes team should be easy.
But when gorgeous new girl Sofia rolls in and steals Brendan, Ashley's place on the team, and her fragile foothold on the Mansfield Park Prep social totem pole, it’s on. Sofia is everything Ashley left her old school to escape. The only thing Ashley didn’t count on is Sofia’s sexy twin brother Vincent.
Vincent is not only the hottest boy in school, he’s charming, sweet, and he’s got his eye on Ashley. He’s also not taking no for an answer. There's no real reason Ashley shouldn't like Vincent, but with the
battle lines being drawn between her and Sofia, Ashley’s not sure which side he’s on. Or which side she wants him to be on.
She does know Sofia is trouble with a capital T, and she’s determined to make Brendan see it.
SOLVING FOR EX is a YA contemporary romance that remixes Mansfield Park as Clueless meets Mean Girls in a crazy mix of high school society, mathletic competition, and teenage romance.
I want to tell you all a lovely little story, but first, let's take a moment to appreciate the cover for Solving for Ex. Isn't it adorable and quirky and unique and it actually relates to the contents? Isn't that magical? I love this cover. A lot. A lot a lot. Like, I need to work on getting this on my shelves, not just my Kindle, levels of a lot.
Once upon a time, a girl named Julie was taking a class on Austen. In said Austen class, she would be reading Mansfield Park for the first time, the only Austen she hadn't at least tried to read. This girl also had a friend, Leigh Ann. Leigh Ann was publishing a Mansfield Park retelling and offered to send an eARC. So, Julie came up with a genius plan. She would read a few chapters in Mansfield Park, then read enough chapters in this retelling to catch up.
Then one, she said screw it and sped through the retelling because she stopped caring. The girl still hasn't finished Mansfield Park, but she did write her final paper on it.
But in all seriousness, I loved Solving for Ex. I knew enough when I started to have a decent idea of where it was going, and then I Wikipedia'd the plot of Mansfield Park for class purposes, so I REALLY knew where this was going, but it didn't stop me from kind of loving the "bad" characters. And it didn't make me want to smack the good characters who made stupid mistakes as much. I knew ALL of it, yet it still seemed like a surprise.
Leigh Ann has this amazing ability to craft characters. They're always incredibly well rounded, no matter who they are or what their role in the plot is. And her main characters, like Ashley, are wonderfully flawed and realistic and have these really good character arcs. I loved Ashley and my heart broke with her and healed with her and felt how amazing Vincent was and how evil Sofia was and felt what an oblivious idiot Brendan could be.
This is also a testament to her mad writing skills. Knowing what would happen and who these characters were didn't take away from the story. I still sat in a bath tub for several hours and just read and read and read until I finished, homework and other responsibilities be damned. They're so well written and so engaging and addicting that I just want to keep reading, no matter what else is going on outside me and my book.
And the romances. Oh the romances this woman can write! It was swoony and adorable and sometimes awkward and painful to watch. Leigh Ann really gets teenagers and how romances can work in a way that some authors just can't manage. It's realistic yet sigh-inducing and so much fun to read.
As an adaptation, Solving for Ex is pretty loyal to the book, but it doesn't keep the same darker tone that Mansfield Park has, since it is once of the darkest and most somber of Austen's books. It really does have that modern, Mean Girls-esque vibe to it. It's fun and tragic and awkward and nerdy and just so painfully real. I've probably said too many times how real it is, but it's true.
So, honestly, if contemporary YA is your thing? Read it. If Austen is your thing? Read it. If excellent books are your thing? Read it. It comes out today and it's amazing and you're missing out if you don't pick it up today. I loved it intensely and I'm so, so glad it's finally out there for the rest of the world to read.