Cover Image: How to Speak Boy

How to Speak Boy

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Member Reviews

Super cute rivals to lovers romance with plenty of great chemistry. Loved the interactions between Quinn and Grayson and the way their relationship developed. A great contemporary read with plenty of heart.
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How to Speak Boy is such an adorable rivals-to-lovers story! I loved watching Quinn and Grayson try to one-up each other while their relationship slowly changed. Their banter was fun, and I loved the secret notes they unknowingly sent to each other. Also, there’s speech and debate—this was the first YA book I’ve read with this extracurricular!
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This book was really adorable and contained one of my most favorite book tropes. Love the secret identity/letter writing/you’ve got mail story trope - simply love. It also doesn’t hurt that Quinn and Grayson were both super adorable and I was touring for them both from the start. This is a short book and a quick read and I couldn’t put it down once I started. It made me smile and laugh and maybe even want to slap one of the characters (but not gonna say who (if you’ve read this then you know! If you haven’t then read it so you can know!)
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I really enjoyed this title! It was cute, fun, and everything I wanted from it. I always enjoy a good hate to love romance, and this one didn’t disappoint. However, one thing I didn’t like about this book is its reliance on miscommunication and lack of communication to drive the plot. It was somewhat frustrating when the whole conflict could have been resolved if the two main characters just had a conversation. Regardless, I loved the cute YA romance, and I recommend it to lovers of YA fiction who want a fast, easy, adorable read.
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Quinn is serious, hardworking, and in desperate need of a little fun, but she’s vying for President of the Speech and Debate Club against her arch nemesis, the utterly swoon-worthy Grayson, so fun isn’t on the agenda. She’s as competitive as she is smart, but unfortunately, nothing comes easy to Quinn. She has to work twice as hard as Grayson to be successful, or so she believes. That makes it hard for her to let her guard down around him. Even though he’s adorably perfect. Quinn’s two closest friends, Naomi and Carter, have their own ideas about Grayson. Naomi is pro-romance and Carter is dead-set against it. Apparently Grayson has a reputation of sorts and wants to protect Quinn. But the more time that passes, the more it becomes clear that Carter has an ulterior motive in keeping Quinn and Grayson apart. Underlying it all is a mysterious student who Quinn corresponds with the old fashioned way — pen to paper. With three boys vying for her interests, she’s not sure where to turn or who she can really trust.

The main plot is the romance between Quinn and Grayson, but there are a number of subplots that involve Quinn’s college future, the mysterious letter writer, her speech performance at the state finals, and her relationship with Carter. All expertly weave into the main plot to drive conflict and up the stakes. Although the reader knows who the letter writer is, well, if they read the synopsis, it’s fun watching Quinn try to figure it out. But it also adds an element of wanting to see if they’re just going to tell each other, that made turning the page to see what would happen compelling. While it did take me a good few chapters to really get into this story, because I’ll admit, speech and debate didn’t interest me in the least, once I was invested int he characters, I was all in to the story. So don’t let this aspect of the plot detract you from picking up this really awesome book.

The characters are what I loved most about the book. Quinn is so relatable as an awkward teen who strives to do her best in everything, but keeps coming up short. Her growth comes across as authentic and organic. Her BFF, Naomi is the everything Quinn’s not but wishes she was, making her the perfect sidekick. Carter was a little annoying, but necessary. Not every character needs to be likable, and who doesn’t know at least on Carter? Grayson was adorable as the self-assured son of the the Governor who seems to have everything he’s ever wanted, but underlying it all is a vulnerability that only adds to his attractiveness.

What I Enjoyed About HOW TO SPEAK BOY
1. Quinn. She’s adorkably awkward and utterly endearing. I couldn’t help rooting for her.

2. Grayson. He’s sweet, smart, and hot. The perfect BBF.

3. Quinn’s Mom. I love their relationship. She’s the proper blend of confidant and authoritarian, just what Quinn needs, when she needs her to be.

4. Letter Writing. In a digital world, it was a refreshing throwback to my own high school days.

5. Speech and Debate. Okay, so I’m still not sure I’d ever join this club or find going to these events interesting, but the way the author wrote about these moments, definitely piqued my interest.

What Didn’t Quite Work for Me
The story and characters were amazing and I loved the speech angle. But the ending fell flat for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a HFN ending, but I didn’t have quite the bang I was hoping for, what I felt it was building up to. That said, the author wraps everything up in a satisfying conclusion.

Bottom Line
A cute contemporary romance with adorable characters you can’t help pulling for.
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Ever since the days of You’ve Got Mail, I absolutely love romances where the characters fall in love, without knowing they’re falling in love with each other. Through these anonymous notes, Quinn and Grayson are able to see the real person behind the competitive rival they’ve always known. This is one of my favorite tropes because it lets you see the romance develop without all of the sensory things like attraction and sex (and I DON’T like sex in my high-school YA romances. Just. No.).

I also appreciate that Tiana Smith was able to share a high-school YA romance without sex.

I love any book where the characters start out hating each other, only to realize as the book progresses that perhaps the other person isn’t quite as horrible as they thought. This is just the case with Quinn and Grayson, making for a very enjoyable read.

How to Speak Boy definitely has characters that were very well developed. They were characters I could relate to and enjoy reading about.
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How To Speak Boy is an enticing YA contemporary read about rivals-turned-lovers! The trope itself is an exciting one that would raise everyone’s interests. Competing leads with witty banter, mixed in a You’ve Got Mail type of set up. In fact, knowing that this was within students that are members of the speech and debate team reminded of me of Candy Jar, a movie that I watched on Netflix.

I was expecting lots of soft and fluff for this YA romance, and definitely, this is what I got. If you want something that is tooth-rotting adorable and sweet, try this one. How To Speak Boy is a read where you will know after the few pages that they already have feelings for each other and are in extremely deep denial. This might make you scream in frustration, but the cuteness is actually worth the wait.

The interaction within the two leads are cute and fluffy, but there’s something about the personalities of all the characters in this book that does not really stuck to me as much as I wanted to. Some scenes are a little disconnected, too, and lots of the story is too predictable.

The worst part, I realize, is that the blurb has already spoiled everything but the two characters are clueless. It would have been perfect to be as clueless as them throughout the story, for a little thrill, a la how the reveal was perfect during Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

But there’s no denying that this book is a quick read, I was able to read it for 3 to 4 hours. I recommend this read for people who love a quick read cheesy and clean romance and witty banter between two characters.
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How to speak boy is my favorite kind of YA: swoony, somewhat predictable, and filled with likable characters you want to root for. It follows two debate team rivals: Quinn and Grayson.

Quinn is the protagonist and the story is told in the first-person from her perspective in a quintessentially YA romance fashion. Quinn may be the captain of the debate team, but she’s not doing great at AP American Government. When she checks her mailbox at school and discovers that her test has been swapped with another student’s, the two become a kind of pen pal, leaving notes in the box of the other. There’s only one problem, she doesn’t know who her mysterious pen pal is. But Quinn has enough problems, namely her team co-captain Grayson. The two have always been competitive, but now it’s their senior year and all bets are off. As the two compete they develop an unlikely friendship and Quinn must decide how much she’s willing to risk to follow her heart.

I really liked How to Speak Boy. I’ve never read a book in which characters were members of debate and between that and the fact that it’s set in Boise, Idaho, it had a unique feel. I also loved the two main characters, especially Grayson. He’s the perfect mix of competitive and sweet.

I thoroughly recommend How to Speak Boy to other fans of Young Adult Romance! It’s definitely one to check out!

Thank you to @xpressoreads, @swoonreads, and @netgalley for my review copy!
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How to Speak Boy was a cute enemies to lovers, meets and falls in love with your pen pal love story but with a YA twist.  We meet Quinn and Grayson, both of them are on the debate team. Quinn believes Grayson is her sworn enemy. Quinn got worked up a lot about various things in the book. She was so anxious she started to get on my nerves. This girl obsessed about everything imaginable. If it wasn't her nonexistent social life, her need to best Grayson at everything and college. Okay, these are typical things teenagers deal with daily. 

I really liked Grayson's character. He was so self-assured and outwardly confident. He did have some insecurities and angst but it centered around his mother. His mom was the governor of Idaho and she had Grayson's life mapped out for him. Early on I figured Grayson had a major crush on Quinn and he wooed her. It was so cute.

Nia and Carter were Quinn's only friends and they were her only support system until she began writing letters to a mystery guy in her AP Government class. There was something about Carter that I did not like very early on and his behavior at the end of the book towards Quinn was so not cool. I was ready to strangle him myself. With friends like him who needs enemies. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book and How to Speak Boy is a great addition to the YA genre.

 I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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How to Speak Boy is a Young Adult contemporary romance and follows our main character Quinn who is hugely competitive in her Speech and Debate team at school.  She and an arrogant young man named Grayson are competitive rivals, so much so that Quinn considers him her enemy. But when Grayson and Quinn are forced to pair up as co-captains of the Speech and Debate team, things take an interesting turn as Quinn realizes that Grayson perhaps isn't the monster that she had built him up to be in her mind.  

But though he is fast becoming a friend (and possibly even more?), Quinn doesn't completely trust him and can't help but wonder whether his friendly banter is fake and that he plans to sabotage her chances of winning at the finals tournament, something he has purportedly done in the past.

Additionally, events take an interesting turn when a graded test paper belonging to Student (15211) is accidentally placed in Quinn's receptacle (15511).  Because students are only identified by their student numbers, Quinn doesn't know the student's identity.  So she returns the paper with a note, explaining the mix-up, which then begins a super-sweet back-and-forth correspondence between Quinn and the mystery student. 

So not only is she beginning to fall for Grayson, but her curiosity about her mystery correspondent is also peaked, and she begins to develop feelings for the unknown boy.  Oh — and Quinn also suspects that Carter, her long-time friend, has feelings for her and is trying to push Grayson out of the way.  Now Quinn has to decide who she can trust and whether to listen to her heart instead of her head.

I love the enemies-to-lovers trope and felt that it worked exceptionally well here. The banter between Grayson and Quinn is witty, snarky, and a lot of fun, and both of the characters were extremely likable and relatable. Several of their interactions caused me to cackle out loud or, at the very least, brought a smile to my face.  

Many of us can relate to Quinn's desire for academic perfection and the intense desire to succeed — and all the pressure and stress that goes along with that (some of which she’d created herself). It's always refreshing to see realistic characters in stories, especially stories about high school and I found myself forming a bond with Quinn right from the get-go. Quinn is spirited, stubborn, feisty, and has the personality, backbone, and style to complement and balance Grayson's suave and charismatic character.

All in all, this was a sweet and humorous YA romance with some powerful themes of friendship, love, competitiveness, academic perfection, rivalry, trust, and betrayal.  The romance was engaging with a compelling plot and well-defined characters who were a joy to read.  The secret note correspondence added extra intrigue to the story that worked perfectly here.  I also found the Speech/Debate theme angle to the story refreshing, as I don't think I've read this element in any other book.

My only niggle is not with the story but rather with the synopsis/blurb.  I felt that this story would have been even more impressive had the synopsis not revealed the identity of the mystery penpal.  Grr!  The book did an excellent job of keeping their identity a secret — too bad the synopsis didn't.
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Love a good enemies to lovers novel. I loved the authors release last year Match Me if You Can and was so excited for How to Speak Boy and it did not disappoint! This was one of my favorite reads of December. I flew through the pages. I seriously loved the chemistry between the two MC’s. I really also liked the ups and downs of the friendships. It made the story well rounded. Not everything was just going to fall into place and be perfect. This book came out in the world yesterday and I highly recommend snagging your copy. Thank you Swoon Reads for sending me a copy for consideration.
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I found the decision to set this story in the world of debate to be a novel one. The characters were appropriately likable, and the climax of the story was especially well done. I plan to obtain copies of this for my middle school classroom.
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**Review can be found at

Quinn has goals that she plans to meet this year, starting with being named Team Captain of her debate team. But when she is named co-captain with her arch enemy, it seems like everything starts to unravel. When her History assignment gets returned to the wrong person, she ends up getting into a note exchanging relationship with a stranger that keeps her going. But the question is, does she really want to learn the identity of her mystery pen pal?

I was lucky enough to meet this author last year when she came to talk to my book club about her debut novel Match Me If You Can (which was so cute and adorable!) when she mentioned her next book was a YA version of the movie You've Got Mail where the enemies converse anonymously mixed with the drama of speech and debate, I knew I was going to read it. I am happy to report that the story lived up to mt expectations and it was such a fun story to get lost in.

While this was most certainly a romance, my favorite parts of the book had to do with the relationships between the main character and her mom and the main character and her best friend. She had such great relationships with both of them, so positive and supportive the way they should always be! I also really enjoyed how independent and straightforward Quinn was, she knew herself and her goals and was not going to stop just because she had feelings for a boy or was potentially made fun of. But of course there was a romance aspect to the story as well (which we all love!), and I was always a fan of her love interest with his charm and snark. There was so much going on in the plot but all pieces fit together so well for a cohesive story.

Tiana was able to create a sophomore book that was just as fun and cute as her debut story which shows me that she is going to be one of my go-to YA contemporary romance authors. I highly recommend this story for anyone who likes enemies to lovers, slow burn, high school drama, and great strong characters.
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Fun YA read with a few twists that kept the story fresh and entertaining.  Believable characters and setting.
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This is one reason I love YA books!! This sweet story of enemies to more was so fun to read. I didn’t know much about debate and I found that part of the story entertaining. The side characters were good too and in all I would read  this book again.
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3.5 is more accurate. It was a lot of fun. I especially liked the speech and debate elements. And I dug the fact that this chick was all about the words... the speeches, the letters, the website for her mom, all of it. It was relatively believable, too, as a high school romp. Especially the overthinking! Ha! That was SO familiar. 
It just wasn’t the best writing, if I’m being honest. Good story, below average writing. Bummer. 🤓💜📚
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This was a fairly good YA book but also nothing special. There was no hook or something to keep me going as it was fairly obvious where is was going the whole time. It was a light fun read but without a lot of substance.
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How to Speak Boy was everything I could’ve hoped for! It had the perfect humor, the adorable romance, and the perfect ending. In fact, in the last couple chapters, I was so invested with the characters that my heart was racing to find out what happened next!

This book is perfect for fans of “Tweet Cute” by Emma Lord and “Alex, Approximately” by Jenn Bennett. It has the anonymous romance element, and you can find similar senses of humor in both.
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Rating: 4.5 Stars

After reading this book and Smith's debut, Match Me If You Can, I can state, with certainty that she writes my kind of books - super cute, filled with great characters, and adorable, swoony romance.

Quinn and Grayson seemed to always be in direct competition with each other, and when it came time to select the newest debate team captain, they were forced to share the role. It meant more time working together, and that meant lots of fun banter for me to read. I felt like Quinn saw Grayson as the enemy, but he didn't seem to feel the same way. Yes, he enjoyed winding Quinn up, but it felt more like flirting, if you ask me.

It wasn't just their banter that I loved, I adored both these characters, and though I learned some about them, as they interacted with each other, the real, deep revelations came via their anonymous letters to one another. The "You've Got Mail"-like plot line worked so well for me. I was enamored with the missives they wrote! They quickly became quite confessional in nature, and were sticky sweet to boot. I couldn't get enough of them!

Can we talk about Grayson? Grayson, Grayson, Grayson - what a great love interest! He was charming and witty, and I could feel the electricity between him and Quinn. I thought he was the perfect foil for someone like her, and they complimented each other so well. If I were a teen girl, I would have swooned from some of the things he said. But he wasn't all pretty talk. He was also a man of action, and that made me love him even more.

I was delighted by Quinn and Grayson separately, and I also loved them together, but there were many other things that kept me flipping the pages. One element, which is very important to me, is family, blood or found, and Smith gave me some wonderful examples in this book.

Quinn didn't have a ton of people in her life, but she had some high quality people. Her best friend Naomi was wonderful. These two young women were there to support one another, while still keeping it real. Quinn also had a fabulous mom. I loved the way Quinn was so invested in her mother's success, and how she worked hard to help her mother achieve her dream.  Grayson was also pretty lucky. Yes, his parents had high expectations for him, but they were extremely loving and approachable, which I thought was important.

This book had a great rom-com feel, and I was left in a state of elation upon finishing it. Seriously, it was entertaining, engaging, and enjoyable from the very first page to the very last page.
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I fell hard for this book and the protagonists. Their rivalry was intense and so were their buried feelings for each other. The anonymous note plot device was absolutely perfect for this book, especially when the idea of meeting came up AND when one confessed to know the identity of the other and still wanted to meet. Swoon! Recommending for fans of Kasie West's PS I Like You, another YA where anonymous notes bring two people together.
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