Little, Brown . Nov. 2023. 272p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316524773.
Gr 9 Up–Rosen pays homage to Jane Austen’s Emma while also successfully transforming it for a modern audience, gifting the titular Emmett a vibrant community of queer friends and leveraging major plot points to discuss the complexities of queer relationships and the difference between being nice and being good. Emmett is blessed—with wealth, classic good looks, popularity, and access to an elite education, he lives a privileged life that many would envy; however, he knows not to take anything for granted. For him, this means caring for his overly anxious father, abstaining from romantic relationships until his brain has fully developed, and committing to a constant, laborious effort to be “nice” to everyone. After initial success setting up his transfeminine bff Taylor with her boyfriend, he catches the matchmaking bug, setting out to find the perfect someone for his friends-with-benefits study buddy Harrison, who suddenly wants more than just a casual hook-up. This is much more difficult than anticipated and forces charmingly oblivious Emmett to finally start examining his own flaws. In many ways, this fresh take transcends the original Emma, allowing Emmett to learn to set boundaries, embrace his caustic side, and accept criticism. Rosen also wisely jettisons the eyebrow-raising age difference between the main character and love interest, here the snarky Miles. Emmett is white and Jewish while Miles is white and South Asian and has two moms. Side characters represent many different races, ethnicities, gender identities, and sexualities.
VERDICT A refreshing rewrite of Emma as seen through a modern lens, this heartfelt rom-com is recommended for fans of Sophie Gonzales and TJ Klune.

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