Begin Again

­Wednesday Bks. Jan. 2023. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250783363.
Gr 8 Up–When Andie Rose doesn’t get into her dream college, she goes to community college and works hard to transfer. She shows up at Blue Ridge State mid-year, armed with a relentlessly positive attitude and unlimited snack cakes, and jumps headfirst into college life—corralling her reluctant dormmates into weekly hangouts and diving into the ribbon hunt that will help her gain entrance into the same secret society her late mother was in. She also jumps into solving her new friends’ problems—helping her roommate Shay figure out a major and curing her grumpy RA’s caffeine addiction. All this might be a means to avoid her own issues, like her struggles with statistics class, her fears that she’ll never live up to her mother’s legacy, and her problems connecting with her long-distance boyfriend. As she finds a home away from home at Blue Ridge State, complete with ride-or-die friendships and maybe even a new romance, Andie will have to come to terms with her past, reckon with her expectations for herself, and find a future path that’s all her own. This grumpy-sunshine rom-com features a grouch with a secret heart of gold, an eternal optimist with plenty of depth beneath the surface, a healthy dose of banter, and a generous helping of Lord’s laugh-out-loud wit. While Andie is the star of this story, secondary characters, especially new friends, Shay and Valeria, are fleshed out and have their own interesting narrative. Andie and her RA, Milo, are presumed white and straight; Shay is Black, Valeria is biracial, and both girls are queer.
VERDICT A worthwhile addition to your collection to satisfy romance lovers and fans of Lord’s previous books.

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