Cover Image: The Pick-Up

The Pick-Up

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Member Reviews

The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally is a short and sweet contemporary that takes place during a music festival. I loved the concept of social media reuniting the main characters after they get separated, and they are both authentic protagonists. The atmosphere of the festival is especially well written, making this a great read to savour the final moments of summer.

When Mari orders a ride share to get to Lollapalooza, she doesn’t expect to fall for the other guy in the car. The two instantly click and spend a few magical moments together at the festival, but in the chaos of the crowd, they get separated and worry they’ll never see each other again. However, Mari and TJ end up going viral as social media brings them back together, and they are given a second shot at love. Newly reunited, they must decide if what they have is real or just a weekend fling, and quickly, because Mari has to go back to Tennessee after the festival ends. This is a short and fast-paced read, although I do feel like this one could have been longer to allow for more depth.


Mari and TJ are interesting characters, but I had some trouble connecting with them. Mari struggles to trust people after her dad left, and she has a rough home life with her abusive mother. After the downfall of her parents’ relationship, she has sworn off dating and has no plans to find love at the festival. TJ, on the other hand, dreams of being an artist, but he constantly compares himself to his cooler older brother. They both have their own personal struggles, and I enjoyed the way they are able to support each other throughout the book. Mari and TJ’s relationship is definitely insta-lovey, but I think this all comes back to the short length of the book as a whole.


My favourite part about this book has got to be its setting. The story takes place at Lollapalooza over a single weekend, and Kenneally has done an excellent job capturing the atmosphere of the music festival. The fun and the chaos of it all feels so real, and the scenes with Mari and TJ in the crowd were my favourite. I haven’t read many books set at a music festival, and I will definitely be on the lookout for more.


The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally is a unique story about destiny and first love. I loved the concept of being reunited at a music festival, and the main characters are able to support each other through struggles in their personal lives. The setting of a music festival is especially well-executed, making this a great read for those looking to experience the feeling of being at a festival, but from home.
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I loved the fact that The Pick-Up was set at lollapalooza and the city of Chicago. The story started out really fun, got very adventurous and turned heavy. The moments when Mari talked about her relationship with her mom, how she felt about her father's new family and the fact the she didn't grow up in a good environment was a little tough to read. She brought in real world subjects to her story. I enjoyed reading TJ's point of view when it came to his art and colors and was proud of him when he finally stood up to his brother, whos character was very hot at cold. The Pick-Up is a little different than her other books, but still a good read.
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An angsty YA romance that takes place over a weekend at Lollapalooza and honestly portrays the ups and downs of teenage life and the difficulty of finding oneself whilst navigating dating. An emotional journey that touches on child abuse, divorce, and sexuality, and one of Kenneally’s more serious books.

TJ and Mari meet on a ride share on their way to Lollapalooza and hit it off almost immediately. While trying to figure out family relationships and a weekend filled with festival craziness, TJ and Mari must explore what they want from their new relationship and if they are ready to face their future, whether it be on their terms or someone else’s.

The whole time I was reading this book I kept thinking about how all the scenarios and discussions felt authentic and age appropriate. Kenneally explores sex and the loss of innocence and the heartbreaking reality of families that fail. It’s like Kenneally pulled a page from my own teenage life. An absorbing and genuine romance and one I won’t soon forget.
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Loved this one! Such cute characters, it was everything I loved about young adult books. I would def recommend to anyone else.
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Let me start out by saying how much I enjoyed the romance in this novel, especially TJ's non-toxic masculinity as contrasted with his brother. However, I really appreciated Kenneally's attention to showing what abuse can look like. It's not always as simple as physical contact - she portrays the manipulation, the guilt, the blame so well here. This could have been a simple "Divorced Dad is Bad" story, but Kenneally finds a depth these meet-cute romcoms so often lack.
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I've been keeping up with all of Miranda Kenneally's work since I first read her debut Catching Jordan years ago, and I was looking forward to her latest YA contemporary novel The Pick-Up. The novel follows two teens, Mari and TJ, who first meet when they end up sharing a ride to a music festival. This is the beginning of a whirlwind weekend of music, fun and flirtation, but the pair must figure out how they're going to move forward -- both in their own lives, but also for their potential future together.

I liked The Pick-Up, though the premise itself feels a touch gimmicky. I found it as easy to read as Kenneally's other novels have been and devoured it in a matter of mere hours. And many elements of it were certainly enjoyable, like the music festival, seeing bits of Chicago (which made me want to visit the city one day), the meet cute (and meet again cute) moments. But due to the short length of the actual book and the short timeline of a three-day weekend in the story, I just didn't feel like we really got the chance to get to know our main characters Mari and TJ intimately. They're each working through some difficult personal situations and complicated feelings (which was a surprise, as I didn't anticipate this being part of the story), and also trying to figure out how they feel about each other. But because I didn't feel fully invested in them or their relationship, the overall emotional impact was greatly diminished. 

The Pick-Up wasn't quite what I'd anticipated. It's most definitely a quick contemporary read with a sweet blossoming romantic connection. But it just also happens to dip its toes into more emotional waters along the way, though the lack of further development in this aspect means readers will be mere observers just witnessing a portion of what the characters are going through. It's a shame that it didn't quite hit the emotional beats I would have liked, but even so, it's still overall a decent read that made me smile when I got to the very end.
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So. Dang. Fun! I loved the premise of this, the dialogue, the sub-plots with family dynamics, the scavenger hunt around Chicago. Everything! Tell me there is a sequel!
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Do you believe in love at first sight - or in the case of Mari and TJ, first ride-share?

When sharing a car in a Ryde rideshare to the Lollapalooza music festival, Mari and her sister meet TJ and his brother. The connection between Mari and TJ is instant and they decide to hang out at the festival together. But when they get separated by the crowd, how will they ever find each other again? Was this just a fun moment in time with a cute boy, or could there be more to it than that?

When Mari’s sister’s friends put out a Tweet that goes viral to try and find TJ and re-connect the teens, will Mari be able to put aside her distrust of love to give TJ a chance?

This is a fun, instalove story that teens who enjoy reading love stories will devour.  There is plenty of will they, won’t they to keep you guessing but with some deeper themes that give Mari and TJ’s story a bit more substance.

Thanks for Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the advance readers copy to read and review.
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This book was interesting.  I received a copy from Net Galley for my honest opinion.  I’ve read Miranda Kenneally books in the past, so I was excited to read her new book, which is available now!

The story was deep and interesting.  There are so many choices a person can make during their lifetime but the choices they make need to be made by them and not outside sources.  It’s hard not following in people’s footsteps that you are supposed to look up to but it’s gaining your own strength and your own knowledge that makes you the person you are. 

We meet Mari as she’s in Chicago visiting her dad and about to go to Lollapalooza which let’s just face it, is pretty darn awesome to begin with.  Throw in a chance encounter with a super attractive guy and all senses get heightened because of your experiences with them.  I enjoyed reading about Mari and TJ’s budding relationship.  Sure, everything was very fast paced but in this insta world you just can’t help feeling those strong intense feelings so quickly and I felt that with the two of them.  

But there were a lot of undercurrent issues which I feel bought on the seriousness of the book.  Between situations with family members, new and old, and just the powerful emotions that come with them, I really think that’s what made me love the book even more.  Sometimes family situations aren’t always ideal, but it’s how you deal with them and the honestly you share with one another that helps you build those relationship stronger.  Or in some cases, helps other people get the help they need.  Not being afraid to voice your thoughts or opinions, that’s important.  Especially in this day and time. 

I don’t really want to give too much more away but I really enjoyed this book, and the author did not disappoint at all.  Go read it, it’s worth it. A great quick read to pick up and it just makes you think about you and your family and how not everyone is as hunky dory as you think they are.  No matter what it looks like on the outside.
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Disclaimer: I should start by saying this book has been dedicated to me. I am friends with Miranda and was also fortunate enough to read some drafts of the story before it became a book. With that said I want it to be clear all thoughts are my own and not influenced by any of this.

It is no secret that I love Miranda Kenneally books. Since the first time I read her debut, Catching Jordan, in 2012 I knew I was a fan for life. I was in love with the whole Hundred Oaks series. And I was in love with Alex and Lulu’s journey in Four Days of You and Me. Miranda writes it and I know I will love it. And that was true for her newest book, The Pick-Up. It was a delightful read about love at first sight and finding your way out of the shadow of family. Simply put, one of my favorite Miranda books yet.

The Pick-Up is about TJ and Mari, two complete strangers that meet when they end up in the same ride share on their way to the same music festival. Even though Mari is from Tennessee and in her last year of high school while TJ is getting ready to start his first year of college in Chicago, the two of them notice the spark between then and decided to hang out at the festival. But when they are separated with no way to find each other they think all is lost. That’s until a viral hashtag helps them find one another again. But as they spend more time together and delve deeper into their fears and family issues they have to decide if this is more than a weekend fling and is possible love at first sight.

What I loved about The Pick-Up was the issues both TJ and Mari had to deal with. Don’t get me know, they are an adorable pair. Mari is confidant and TJ is unsure for most of their weekend together and it is endearing. But underneath their whirlwind courtship there are real issues they have. Mari’s mother is not a good mother (CW of verbal/physical/emotional abuse) leaving Mari to question wanting to get into anything serious with TJ and what her life is like at home opposed to life with her father in Chicago. And TJ is tried of being in his brother’s shadow and not going after what he wants, art. Over a weekend Mari and TJ try to come to terms with all of this and figure out their lives also while falling for one another over a short time frame. It’s a lot and leads to disagreements and uncertainty but also leads them to what is best for each of them. That right there is why I loved this book so much.

Honestly The Pick-Up is insta love, but it is insta love in the best way; the kind that feels believable. I could see something happening like this when emotions are high and you just meet the right person at the right time. And that is what happened for TJ and Mari. They met each other when they needed the other in their life and sparks ignited. It made the book a joy to read and a book you need in your life! Another gem by Miranda. Add it to your TBR.
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Mari and TJ meet in a rideshare on the way to a music festival and have an instant connection. Over the course of the weekend, they learn more about each other and how to make the most of their futures.

This was some cute insta-love! And also let's be honest, it's everyone's concert fantasy, right? To go in for a concert and come out with the love of your life? Ugh. The dream!

TJ and Mari were just a delight and complemented each other really well. I loved TJ's caution when it came to consent and his openness with his feelings. I also appreciated the love and acceptance from the sibling relationships at play, with TJ/Tyler and Mari/Sierra.

A bit of a trigger warning, Mari is dealing with an abusive parent. I was so glad that we saw Mari trust her gut and know that things were only going to get worse if she didn't speak up.

Overall the stakes felt a little low, but it was still enjoyable!

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the review copy!
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Wait this would’ve been the book of my dreams in college. I think a lot of young people would dream of something like this!
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3.5 stars
A meet cute destined for 2021, Mari and TJ meet in a ride share on the way to Lollapaloosa. This story takes place over one weekend and despite the short time-period, it is jam packed. Following this young couple around for a weekend in the city of Chicago was a fun journey, watching them get to know each other and fighting for what they want in their future. I mostly appreciate Mari’s arch throughout the book, how she grew in her vulnerability and stood up for herself instead of playing the victim of her circumstances. I know from personal experience that transitioning to having a blended family is not easy but the way Kinneally finishes the story fills me with hope for the characters, the family that is forming and connecting with one another. 

I liked the setting of this story, set around a music festival, and it never felt stale and they introduced different locations as well. Kinneally does a great job in her descriptions of the crowds and spaces the characters moved through, I felt like I was there. 

Good for fans of Kinneally’s other books as well as Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson
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Cute YA romance story told from two perspectives going back and forth between Mari and TJ as they navigate 48 hours in the city of Chicago during Lollapolloza.
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This was a quick read, but unfortunately, not one that I loved.

First of all, I feel like the summary mislead me? Maybe that's on me, but I assumed it was going to be more about two people connecting in seemingly serendipitous ways over a weekend. But that was like...the first 15% only. So I felt a bit thrown by that. 

Also, the pacing just felt really off. Like, WAYYYY too fast, so jarring that it was hard to connect with the characters or even buy into their connection. I felt like some of the other elements of the book -- the family relationships, Mari's cynicism about love, etc -- were just kind of thrown in there and not developed properly to be impactful. 

Unfortunately, I was just not at all buying what this book was selling. 

A big thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. THE PICK-UP is out September 7th!
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I don't normally like insta-love stories but this book changed my view! The Pick-Up by Miranda Kenneally is a feel good, sweet, and fast read. The characters were so easy to relate to and I was rooting for them so hard.... I mean bonus points to Mari for wanting to see Shawn Mendes at Lollapalooza, lol. Not only was the romance so developed but Mari & TJ's backstories and family lives were a huge part of the plot too which made this book so well rounded and one of my favorite reads of 2021. 

Many thanks to Netgalley for providing an eARC of The Pick-Up in exchange for an honest review!
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The Pick-Up is a wonderful addition to Miranda Kenneally's stable of books. This was a wonderful, entertaining, and feel good kind of book.

Mari has come to Chicago to attend Lollapalooza with her step-sister and she'll also be seeing and staying with her Dad and step-mother, Leah. Things haven't been great between Mari and her Dad since the divorce from her mom was finalized, but yet things with her Mom back in Tennessee aren't much rosier. Couple her resentment of the divorce with issues she's having with her best friend, Austin, she's having a rough time.

When Mari and Sierra choose to take a ride share company to the concert, little did they know that their shared car was going to introduce them to T.J. and Tyler, brothers who were going to play a big part in their weekend. Mari and T.J. hit is off immediately, but she's not looking for a relationship and the fact they are from two different states doesn't make it any easier for them. Will this be a couple day thing or will they decide to try for something more?

I read this book very quickly because of how much I was enjoying it. I enjoyed the characters, the premise and I also really loved how the challenges both Mari and T.J. were having were handled. They are still growing up and learning, but things didn't get crazy out of control. Sometimes people come into your life when you're least expecting them, but they are exactly who you need in that moment. I'm looking forward to whatever Kenneally has for us next!

**I voluntarily read an early copy of this title courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
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"The Pick-Up": 3⭐

(Unpaid Review: thank you to @netgalley, @mirandakenneally and the publishers for allowing me to read this eArc copy in exchange for a review.)

So, this book, as the "Hot Desk" one, lacks a little development and needs much more story. However, it's a really cute story and the romance is adorable. Since this is YA, I can be very picky since it's one of my favorite genres.
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I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher. This in no way impacted on my view.

Taking a ride share cab to the festival may have been the cheaper option, but was it also the right one for Mari? When she and her stepsister, Sierra, pick up two very hot boys, especially TJ, they hit it off right away, and spend the night together at the festival. Then they are separated, but a bit of luck, and a viral hashtag reunites them. Though only in Chicago for the weekend, will they be able to make it work, or was it all just a weekend fling?

The Pick Up was a book I've been highly anticipating, because I've always enjoyed Miranda's books in the past. Unfortunately, this one wasn't as a big a hit for me. I did like it, and the fact that it was set over a weekend was definitely a plus, because it was a quick paced story, and definitely suited the plot line. I don't know what it was that I was missing from it, but I didn't get the same feeling or connection with the main characters like I have with others. Mari was an okay MC, and I really felt for what she was dealing with in her family, and at home in Tennessee, but I feel like there was more to be explored with both her, and with TJ. All in all, it was an enjoyable book, but not one that I think will stay with me long term.
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A weekend trip to Chicago for Lollapalooza turned into so much more for Mari, when a rideshare app brought TJ into her car and into her heart.

Disclaimer: I love Miranda Kenneally’s books. Be prepared for some fangirling. With that said, this was classic Keneally while also being a bit different.

The first thing that was so strange for me was that we were not in Tennessee. It was odd indeed, though Mari was from Tennessee, and we got a few peeks back to her hometown via video calls with her best friend. There was also mention of the couple from Four Days of You and Me which made me giddy. I love when authors do that, and catching up with that couple was such a treat.

Let’s get back to The Pick-Up. Here we had two very likable people who were a bit leery of relationships. Mari was dealing with the fallout of her parents’ divorce, while TJ struggled with self-confidence. I loved seeing those sparks fly between them. They were sweet and adorable and precious together, and you could just tell there were possibilities for the two of them. It was easier convincing me they belonged together than it was convincing Mari though.

People are going to get all up in arms about this being instalove. I don’t know if it was love at first sight, but there was an attraction that built to more between Mari and TJ. I believe there are situations we can be in where feelings get heightened, but in all fairness to the characters, they did take time to get to know each other. There were a lot of rather meaningful moments between them, so I had no problem buying into this relationship (and I liked it).

The romance was a big part of this story, but you will see, it was one step forward, two steps back sort of relationship. Mari and TJ both had things weighing them down, and each were struggling with something. Mari covered it up well, but life at home with her mom was rough. Her personal journey was the hardest, and one I was very invested in. My heart ached for her when I discovered the root cause of her tendency to keep people at a distance and to not share too much of herself. However, I was extremely pleased with how it all worked out.

TJ had a similar journey to make. He had reservations about his future. He was getting ready to start college with a major selected by his parents. His heart wasn’t in it, but he felt obligated to live out their plans rather than his own. Like Mari, TJ had to make a choice about taking control of his future.

Yes, there were a few tears and some deep stuff, but I also had a fabulous time with Mari and TJ. Ah, to be young and frolicking at a music festival again. Lolla holds a special place in my heart. I have been to the festival in Grant Park, but I also went several times waaaay back in the day out on Randall’s Island. It was fun to revisit the festival and see some sights in Chicago as they worked that selfie challenge.

Overall: This was a sweet story of first love, being honest with yourself, and taking control of your future. I reveled in the joy of the festival, while cheering for all the personal wins Mari and TJ experienced. And that ending! Miles of smiles.
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