I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Screen Queens by Lori Goldstein
Published by Razorbill on June 11, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 368 •Format: ARC •Source: NetGalley
This summer Silicon Valley is a girls' club.
Three thousand applicants. An acceptance rate of two percent. A dream internship for the winning team. ValleyStart is the most prestigious high school tech incubator competition in the country. Lucy Katz, Maddie Li, and Delia Meyer have secured their spots. And they've come to win.
Meet the Screen Queens.
Lucy Katz was born and raised in Palo Alto, so tech, well, it runs in her blood. A social butterfly and CEO in-the-making, Lucy is ready to win and party.
East Coast designer, Maddie Li left her home and small business behind for a summer at ValleyStart. Maddie thinks she's only there to bolster her graphic design portfolio, not to make friends.
Delia Meyer taught herself how to code on a hand-me-down computer in her tiny Midwestern town. Now, it's time for the big leagues--ValleyStart--but super shy Delia isn't sure if she can hack it (pun intended).
When the competition kicks off, Lucy, Maddie, and Delia realize just how challenging the next five weeks will be. As if there wasn't enough pressure already, the girls learn that they would be the only all-female team to win ever. Add in one first love, a two-faced mentor, and an ex-boyfriend turned nemesis and things get...complicated.
Is there anything more topical than a book about a group of girls killing it in the tech world? I think not, and I was so excited to get my hands on an ARC of Screen Queens for that exact reason- to see a book that promotes women breaking down barriers and making history in the Silicon Valley. Following Lucy, Maddie and Delia, three very different girls from very different background and with very different skill sets, I felt as though I had traveled to a Silicon Valley summer start up incubator right alongside them!
While Screen Queens celebrates the achievements of women in tech, it doesn’t shy away from the struggles they must deal with either. I was surprised but pleased at how serious the novel tackled issues such as gender inequality, workplace harassment, and more and featured women at all levels of their careers coming forward through the course of the story about the challenges they’ve faced- and still face- even at the executive level. I also appreciated how the story showed there is more than one way to be successful. You can be bold and play the game like Lucy, you can be creative and out of the spotlight like Maddie, or you can be earnest and do the right thing like Delia. I was impressed that the story was able to take 3 characters who so clearly were NOT a fit together and realistically have them become teammates who had each other’s backs no matter what.
Overall: I hope Screen Queens is indicative of more books about women in tech coming to the YA field! While at times this one did feel a little long for my taste, it was ultimately intelligent and empowering!
You Say It First by Katie Cotugno
Also by this author: 99 Days, 9 Days & 9 Nights, How to Love
Published by Balzer + Bray on June 16, 2020
Pages: 368 •Format: E-Book •Source: Overdrive
Meg has her entire life set up perfectly: her boyfriend Mason is sweet and supportive, she and her best friend Emily plan to head to Cornell together in the fall, and she even finds time to clock shifts phonebanking at a voter registration call center in her Philadelphia suburb. But everything changes when one of those calls connects her to a stranger from small-town Ohio, who gets under her skin from the moment he picks up the phone.
Colby is stuck in a rut, reeling from a family tragedy and working a dead-end job—unsure what his future holds, or if he even cares. The last thing he has time for is some privileged rich girl preaching the sanctity of the political process. So he says the worst thing he can think of and hangs up.
But things don’t end there.…
That night on the phone winds up being the first in a series of candid, sometimes heated, always surprising conversations that lead to a long-distance friendship and then—slowly—to something more. Across state lines and phone lines, Meg and Colby form a once-in-a-lifetime connection. But in the end, are they just too different to make it work?
You Say It First is a propulsive, layered novel about how sometimes the person who has the least in common with us can be the one who changes us most.
You Say It First actually made it on my most anticipated books of 2020 list after I read and immensely enjoyed Katie Cotugno’s 99 Days and 9 Days and 9 Nights. However while I enjoyed her latest novel (and loved the cover!) it lacked the edge that I so loved from her previous books.
The story follows Meg, a perfect, Type A student who works phonebanking at a voter registration call center and who’s world seems perfect from the outside but has some deep fissures forming behind the scenes. She meets Colby, a bit of an aimless soul dealing with the grief of losing his father, during this phonebanking and one conversation turns to many which turns into a full-fledged virtual relationship. Meg and Colby’s relationship was extremely relatable for Millenials and Gen Z’ers in some ways, because who among us hasn’t had a high school relationship that was (at least at first) primarily conducted via text/phone calls/Myspace? It was also very timely to see Meg and Colby have real, honest discussions about their political views which leaned left for Meg and mostly apathetic for Colby. However, I was often frustrated by elements of the story, particularly Meg’s aversion to ever admitting she was upset by anything and Colby’s self-sabotaging ways. This story also just felt timid to me in terms of the topics it dealt with compared to the previous Cotugno books I’ve read, where she really took some hard teenage concepts and confronted them head on and I feel like this book was about having to drag the scandal out of the characters who were intent on masking the drama in their lives.
Overall: I enjoyed You Say It First and really respected the way the political element was handled, and think it’s a great book for anyone exploring the political landscape and how involved they want to be. However, it’s not my favorite of Cotugno’s novels.