Member Reviews

This story surprised me, since parts of it did not go where I was expecting it to. The author tackles some difficult issues and heartbreak that I appreciated being part of a YA title.

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This book has all the angsty feels of a YA romance. But there was so much more to it than that. There was real feelings, heartache, change of plans, a compelling dual POV, grief, frustrating friends, and so much more. It’s been a while since I read a YA book. The author does a great job.

Nellie and Jensen were great characters. Both experiencing the same tragic event, while trying to navigate the last few days of high school. I really liked Nellie. And I loved that Jensen was a secret author. (For fear of spoilers, I say much else about the story but I really enjoyed it!)

I also listened to the audio and the narrators did a great job.

I’m excited to read more books from Larsen. Especially a continuation of Nellie’s and Jensen’s story! (Hint hint)

I received a paperback copy from the publisher and a Netgalley approval. Thank you! All views are my own.

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I went into this expecting a cute YA romance, what I got was a whole lot more nuanced. There was loss, betrayal, issues with friends, and yes, a cute romance. I loved how both Jensen and Nellie’s lives had been touched by her father. My favorite part, and what led me to pick up the book was Jensen’s secret role as a bestselling author.

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*I received a free copy of this ARC ebook from the publisher; the review is my own.*

Based on the title and artwork, I had expected this book to be more lighthearted than it was. Yes, the last part of the description talks about a family tragedy and secrets, but outwardly, the book mostly gives off a happier vibe than what it actually is. It's not that heavy topics are bad--they're not. In fact, I appreciate that many authors of YA contemporary romance choose to tackle the hard subjects that a lot of young adults are faced with rather than solely write candy books. (For the record, I also like candy books.) But I went into this book expecting it to be more . . . fun, so I was a little disappointed.

Overall, I liked Jensen (18) and Nellie (almost 18). Their chapters were a little difficult to differentiate if I picked the book back up mid chapter, and sometimes there characteristics were told more than shown (for example, supposedly Jensen was a cocky player, but I never saw any actual evidence of it. I was frequently frustrated with their lack of communication and the unnecessary lies.

Although the ending wasn't bad, I wasn't quite satisfied with it, either. Not only do I still have unanswered questions (see spoilers), but it feels like everything is in limbo. And not in a way that hints at a sequel. The epilogue was more of a side note, as well.

Note: Death of a loved one.

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This book is so much more than a YA romance. The story line has a lot of emotion and depth. It takes the reader on quite a ride. I am hoping there is another book to follow this one since there is so much more to Jensen and Nellie’s story.

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I enjoyed this story. I thought it was cute and creative. I was expecting Nellie's tragedy to be much bigger, but I actually liked that it wasn't. Still a terrible thing, but just not as horrible as I had guessed. I really liked Jensen and Nellie together and how they helped each other be the best they could be. I didn't love how Nellie's relationship ended with her Mom. I had wished for more closure there, but I do understand why it was left the way it was. The epilogue was a little weird to me but intriguing. Overall I did really enjoy this story!

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This was a great read! It would be a great read for any YA reader that likes to read books about high school and romance.

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I am sorry but I couldn’t finish this book. I will probably try again in the future but it was not my cup of tea. It’s an interesting story but maybe for another time.

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This was a fun read, a perfect end of the school year beginning of summer read. The characters are well written and likable and I can see this being a popular read in my HS library.

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Fun Fact: I Love You took me right back to high school where life could be pretty emotional at times especially as a senior anticipating graduation. This book caught all those feelings along with crushes, a first kiss, & first love. But, it also deals with some heavier topics.

I loved the author’s writing style and was completely sucked into the story, but it’s not a breezy, lighthearted YA romance. It’s an emotional roller coaster as the main characters deal with tragic loss and difficult decisions. There are enough romantic, lighter, inspirational moments to balance things out. Overall it’s an enjoyable read that really does a great job of capturing teenage emotions, especially at graduation.

Nellie Samsin’s a 4.20 GPA student and Valedictorian who has her future all mapped out, including a five year plan. A game at lunch though changes everything and leads to her first kiss which is anything but enjoyable. Her best friend Jensen finally decides he needs to make a move especially after Nellie’s kiss with his best friend.

Jensen’s got his secrets though. He’s a best selling author whose identity is well hidden. When tragedy strikes Nellie’s life, he’s there to help her cope while dealing with his own grief. As graduation looms and his secret’s about to be revealed, will Nellie feel betrayed as she’s felt betrayed by so many others in her life?

I thoroughly enjoyed Nellie’s and Jensen’s relationship. Jensen’s such a thoughtful, supportive guy. He’s had a crush on Nellie for years, but has kept that along with his successful profession secret. I loved experiencing those butterflies in the stomach feelings of first love with them.

The mixed emotions and feeling lost at high school graduation were also captured so well. I loved Nellie’s Valedictorian speech which had me in tears. Along with her tragic loss, Nellie has to grapple with friend betrayals & parent issues. Some things she handles well while others she doesn’t. I loved how Jensen and his mom were so supportive of her. I enjoyed Jensen’s writing process in dealing with his characters.

Definitely looking forward to more books by this author. Recommend this book to older, mature teens. Please see the content warning if you’re sensitive to death, abuse, or grief (warning potential spoilers). I received an advanced complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own and voluntarily provided.

CW: death of a parent on screen, mention of child disability as a result of abuse, absent/neglectful parents, suggestion of parental infidelity, parental drinking, passionate kissing only with some innuendo.

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“He looks at me like I’m his entire world, and I feel the galaxies spin around us.”

It’s been a really long time since I’ve been in high school, but YA books always seem to transport me to the rose-colored glasses times of those angsty days. Nellie is ready to graduate and gets her first kiss at school…from her crush…with the luck of winning a game. And unfortunately, it wasn’t all that. Watching the last few weeks of her public education play out in surprising ways touched every string of my heart in so many unexpected ways.

Gina Larsen has a way of writing that drew me into the story and allowed me to feel. There are some heavy and deep topics, especially things that blaze a trail through grief, trauma, secrets, and unknowns, but the hope lining the clouds is sweet. Coming-of-age and adapting to one’s circumstances is always inspiring to me.

This friends-to-lovers tale encapsulates all the emotions and is a story worth reading.

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Nellie can’t wait to graduate and get away from her very aloof and difficult to please mother. She adores her dad, but sees cracks growing in the marriage. And her “best friend” is pretty toxic, so there’s that, too.

After Nellie and Jensen work late one night to complete some last-minute yearbook pages (been there, done that), Nellie realizes she hasn’t heard anything from her father all evening. She asks Jensen to go with her to his office at the university and check on him.

Jensen can’t let Nellie know that he has spent hours in that office with her father, his writing mentor who has helped him publish a couple of phenom best-selling fantasy novels.

Both are shattered when they find him dead at his desk.

As they rekindle their childhood friendship in the wake of the tragedy, their relationship becomes stronger and deeper. If only Jensen wasn’t hiding such a big secret from Nellie. He begins to reveal pieces of his life to her, but is unable to tell her all. Nellie takes great comfort from their friendship, and particularly from Jensen’s mom, as her own becomes more and more difficult to live with.

Of course, there are misunderstandings and setbacks on the way to their happy-ever-after, but they make sense.

Honestly, Nellie and Jensen are the best written characters in the story. Supporting characters are a little bit flat, but serve their purposes. Dialogue is natural.

Possible Objectionable Material:
Parental infidelity and death. One character’s family has escaped from domestic violence, which left a sibling permanently disabled. Deception, though well-intended.

Who Might Like This Book:
Those who like high school coming of age stories, especially of the second-chance love variety.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

This book is also reviewed at

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Fun Fact: I Love You by Gina Lynn Larsen was a clean YA romance. Once I started I had to know how it ended and was hooked all the way to the end. There were a lot of unexpected things that always kept me wondering and guessing. The main characters were sweet and lovable. My heart hurt for the tragedies both faced in their lives.

Some triggers
-Toxic relationships (friend and mom)
-Death of a parent

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“Everything is coming at me at a million miles per hour, but not her. Nellie has always been a constant in my life , even when she withdrew from me like an eclipse, even when I hid behind the blinding light of Sterling and Marbles. It took a while for us to gravitate back to each other, but now that we’re aligned, I don’t want to tempt the universe. I’d rather just let the sun and moon rise and fall on us, like it does everyone else. And her plans and my plans don’t need to be fixed constellations right now. Whatever we decide is already written in the stars. At least, that’s my belief.”


this is such a beautiful story, I'm so glad I read it. Nellie's journey is really special to me, because in a way, I've lived the same plot twists she had to experience on her last days of high school.

That moment is full of changes already without everything else that comes at her, so this means more change that what she expected. Thankfully, she's not alone. Jensen had to meet this change as well.

Jensen is going through the same final high school days but his future is at glance different from Nellie's. So this story not only brings us along to see them both mature so much in so little time, but to also witness to paths that can mix and match, alongside the love of Nellie and Jensen. All with love, loss, humor and a good set of side characters cheering them along.

“If Nellie were cosmic matter, she would be Andromeda. Another galaxy, full of light and color and mystery. I’d be a space station.”

“I don’t tell her she’s not in charge of the universe, though I suspect if she wanted to be, she’d find a way. Instead, I lean into this . Today, she’s here with me. Today, there aren’t deadlines. Today, it’s just us, and we’re in a good place, somewhere beyond friendship and light-years away from fear. If I had to place us on a map, we’d be our own galaxy.”

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I forgot to write a review when I finished this book, which makes me sad because it was so good and now I’ve forgotten somethings. But, this was just what I needed. I’ve been stuck in a different genre for quite awhile and this was so enjoyable. I really liked the characters and it was one of those books that I stayed up super late reading. If I hadn’t had work the next day I would have finished it in one sitting. I’m looking forward to reading it again.

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I got to read this book as an arc from net galley. I never expected to love it this much. It was overall a great book and I feel like it represented very well how a teenager deals with grief and everyday problems.
The romance was epic. I was rooting for Nellie and Jensen the entire time. Their love was represented so well and I loved how we got to see how they helped each other deal with their problems.
****minor spoilers****
This book dealt with quite a few things: the death of a parent ,being perfect, fake friends etc. The way that each problem was presented and dealt with made the book feel so realistic. Due to this I felt so connected to the characters.
****spoiler finished*****
The only reason that this is a 4 star read it's because I felt like it dragged a bit at the ending for no reason. I want to read more books from this author in the future and I honestly was very surprised with how good this book was and that it's actually a debut novel.
I would recommend this to everyone who is looking for a late teen,YA romance that also deals with grief and goes into detail about everything.

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This was much deeper than I expected and by no means the light, fun and cosy read the cover (and skimming the blurb) tricked my expectation into. It was surprisingly deep and I loved it even more for it.

My expectation was: the book will be about a YA romance blossoming into a relationship revolving around Jensen slowly unravelling his hidden secret to Nellie. Well, it is, partially. But it is as much a coming of age story as it is YA contemporary romance.

But the other parts, the family tragedy, the false friends behaving towards an obviously neurodiverse (ND) person who's not great at masking (Nellie) the way they usually do, and the struggles with their own family during all that takes up a big part in this book. Which, to me personally, isn't a bad thing, I love books with depth, I only think people who only look at the cover and the title will probably go into this with the wrong expectations and might end up hating the book. This is not a light hearted read all the way through. It is enjoyable, very intriguing and easy to read, but it is not an easy read.

I thoroughly enjoyed all parts of the story. It is well-written, easy to read and get into, the main characters are very relatable (and so obviously ND coded, that this should be an instant recommendation for any ND person but especially for ND teens), the story is interesting, heart-warming and very compelling.

I saw a few people complaining in reviews about Jensen not being a believable teenage boy. As someone who's ND themselves I can assure you he is a perfectly normal teenage boy who happens to be ND. He's only better at masking than Nellie is. There is a reason why the two, and her Dad, get along so well.

This was a very enjoyable book to read and I was a bit sad when I finished it, I'd loved to get to know more about Nellie, Jensen, their parents and what happens in their lives from that point on. Luckily the ending is open, so I can still hope for a sequel...

This is a very impressive debut and I am very much looking forward to reading more from the author in the future.

The one qualm I have with this book is with the price tag of the eBook in relation to the fact that there are still quite a number of typos in my version of it. At one instance the author wrote "hairbrained" instead of 'harebrained' and no one so far has noticed. But that is not the only typo in there. I hope the typos do not end up in the published version, for an ~18€ book that would be totally unacceptable and I would take off an additional star for that if I'd review the published version. For that price tag I expect multiple people to edit and proofread a book before it gets published (yes, that might be because I am a proofreader myself and hence very nitpicky when it comes to that) and the end result to be flawless in grammar and spelling.

Thank you to the author, Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC version of this wonderful book.


Transparency disclaimer: Receiving a free ARC version of this book via NetGalley did not influence my review in any way, shape or form.

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All the teenage feels!

Nellie has never been kissed and when her first kiss turns out to be lackluster and the result of a game, she is heartbroken.

Jensen has had a crush on Nellie for years and when he watches her get her first kiss from his friend, he decides it is finally time to do something about it. The problem is he has other secrets, like he is a best-selling author writing under a pen name, and has no idea how Nellie will react when she finds out he has kept it from her.

When family tragedy strikes, Jensen and Nellie are brought together in an unexpected way and learn to lean on each other as they navigate grief, betrayal, and the anxieties that come with growing up.

What you'll love:
YA romance
dual pov
Childhood friends
teen author/hidden identity
coming of age
best friend drama
Nellie’s speech
teenage angst
grief and loss
found family
sweet romance
“It’s always been you.”

This YA romance is full of angsty emotion! Despite the cute looking cover, this is not a lighthearted, cutesey high school romance. Which is fine - I enjoy angsty books! But if that is not what you are looking for, this book may not be the best fit for you.

I loved the journey and growth of Jensen and Nellie's relationship from friends to solid friends to something more. They have a lot to work through as 18 year olds, from Jensen's secrets to Nellie's grief and betrayal and all the decisions they have to make as they graduate high school, but they learned to communicate and trust and their romance was so sweet!

I did appreciate that they behaved and reacted like normal teenagers! Sometimes YA books make teenagers way too mature, but I have three teenagers and there were so many scenes where I thought, "yep, that's exactly what a teenager would say."

This book gave me all the feels (I definitely cried and oh man, was so angry at a few of the characters!). If you like coming of age books full of emotion, you will love this one!

TW: anxiety/depression, death of loved one (includes brief description of finding the dead boy), implied marital infidelity, parental neglect/abandonment, handicapped family member

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I want to start with I loved this book. Finished within the day.

The emotion in this book! It was real. The scene with Jensen at the cemetery was so raw and real. Full on ugly cry here for him.

Nellie’s pain was also crushing because everyone else in her life quite literally sucked. BUT Jensen had absolutely no one to confide in and ugh. Brutal.

I actually was quite relieved there was no break up when Nellie found out about Jensen because this book went through it. I don’t know if I could’ve handle it 😅

Anyway. So good.

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for a chance to read and review.

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Nellie is 10 days away from graduation. She has her whole future planned out, she has a full-ride scholarship for UNLV, and her whole life ahead of her. There’s just one problem: she’s never been kissed. Her best friend, Britta sets it up, so that she can kiss her crush, Sterling, in front of the whole school. Shortly after kissing Sterling, she finds out it was a prank. Mad at her best friend, she starts dealing with betrayal, lies, and not being able to trust anyone but Jensen. Jensen has had a crush on his friend, Nellie, for years. Everyone seems to notice, but Nellie. Secretly, her father has been mentoring him while he writes a popular romance series under the pseudonym, Jen Dimes. When the unexpected death of Nellie’s father and a last-minute yearbook assignment drive the two together, they start to have feelings for each other. Can Jensen help Nellie navigate the newfound stress in her life or will the stress threaten their new relationship?

The plot is well-written and engaging. The characters are endearing and authentic. The romance between the two main characters is believable and draws the reader into the story. Themes of grief, betrayal, and dealing with people’s lies work well in the story and don’t overshadow the romance. Readers who like romance, realistic fiction, and friendship stories will want to pick this one up. Recommended for most library collections. Gr 7 to 12, 5 stars

Please note: This was a review copy given to us by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No financial compensation was received.

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