I was super fortunate to have NOVL send me an ARC of Amelia Westlake Was Never Here by Erin Gough, and it was how I chose to kick off my summer contemporary readathon! I really enjoyed it and it was a great start to my reading binge!
This is actually going to be pretty short, as I am tight on time today, so let’s jump right in!
A fiercely funny, queer romantic comedy about two girls who can’t stand each other, but join forces in a grand feminist plan to expose harassment and inequality at their elite private school.
Harriet Price is the perfect student: smart, dutiful, over-achieving. Will Everhart is a troublemaker who’s never met an injustice she didn’t fight. When their swim coach’s inappropriate behavior is swept under the rug, the unlikely duo reluctantly team up to expose his misdeeds, pulling provocative pranks and creating the instantly legendary Amelia Westlake–an imaginary student who helps right the many wrongs of their privileged institution. But as tensions burn throughout their school–who is Amelia Westlake?–and between Harriet and Will, how long can they keep their secret? How far will they go to make a difference? And when will they realize they’re falling for each other?
Summary courtesy of Goodreads!
This was such a fun story! So I have the weird habit of, when I get books from like sub-boxes or sent to me for review, not reading the summary at all and just going in blind. So I completely missed the fact that this was a F/F Romance, which made for a super fun surprise for me.
This book has so many of my favorite things for Contemporary YA: hate-to-love romance, shenanigans, strong messages, angsty teen feels. All wins in my book! Harriet and Will were fun characters that grew on me more and more as the book progressed. I loved how they created Amelia Westlake as a way to speak up against all the things wrong at their school – a predatory gym teacher, elitism, a teacher who grades on a strong bias, etc.
What became my favorite thing was how Amelia Westlake stopped being just a pretend person and turned into a movement. When it became clear that Amelia wasn’t real, more and more students began using her as a platform for speaking up and righting wrongs. I also loved the “I am Spartacus” moment that occurs at one point in the book.
The relationship between Harriet and Will was a nice slow burn as they went from being enemies to realizing they were actually perfect for each other. Harriet was definitely my favorite of the two, with her total Type A personality and general upbeat demeanor. Will was a little harder for me to like, although I certainly did. I have a harder time relating to characters who dgaf at all and carry a chip on their shoulder for everyone to see. HOWEVER, she means well and has a strong moral compass, so you can’t fault her for that!
All in all, I would definitely recommend this for your next Contemporary read! A great message, good representation, and a well written story. Wins all around!
Drop your favorite YA contemporary reads in the comments below!
You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon here!