High school is almost over for Hannah and Sam – who haven’t actually met yet – and university beckons. Unfortunately for both of them, they are not very well acquainted with the ins and outs (pun intended) of being a semi-grown-up. At the start of the book they’re desperately trying to find out, and end up at the same party. Hannah knows there’s one boy who’s interested, whilst Sam is caught unawares by a girl who launches herself at him.
But the encounter they both leave the party thinking about is the couple of minutes spent with each other in the garish bathroom, talking nonsense about hot Ribena. The next day Hannah is convinced she has found her lobster, unaware that the girl who launched herself at Sam was her best friend. Meanwhile Sam accepts a double-date invitation from that gregarious girl, even though he can’t stop thinking about Hannah.
Over the course of the summer Hannah and Sam stumble their way through a comedy of errors, embarrassing ones, as they tiptoe around each other, wondering if the other likes them back. Whilst it starts off as a brash but socially awkward British version of American Pie, it ends up being something quite a bit sweeter (without being too sweet).
The problem with reading any novel after Trouble, especially a YA one (and a YA novel where one of the main characters has the same name), is that it will invariably suffer by comparison. So it took me a while to get into this one and accept it on its own terms. It’s a lot more frivolous than Trouble, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
However, as with Trouble, it offers a lot less sanitised parent-friendly version of adolescence than you tend to find in their American counterparts. The ending, whilst not shocking in itself, has an unromanticised honesty that was a pleasing surprise.