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BOOK REVIEW: KISSING TED CALLAHAN (AND OTHER GUYS)

Amy Spaulding’s KISSING TED CALLAHAN (AND OTHER GUYS), a zany romp through high school dating, is a great read to kick off the spring!

When best friends Riley and Reid discover that their two bandmates have been secretly dating, they start to feel a little out of the loop. They’ve been too focused on school and music, particularly their indie band called The Gold Diggers, to even consider a real relationship. But now all they can think about is achieving what their other friends already have. After a brief attempt at dating each other that just doesn’t work out, Riley (our narrator) and Reid begin giving each other advice and cataloguing their interactions with crushes in a top secret notebook called The Passenger Manifest.

Reid wants to find true love, but he doesn’t know with whom he actually wants to be in love. Riley isn’t looking for the love of her life, but she is looking for a smart, fun boyfriend– particularly classmate Ted Callahan, the shy nerd-boy she can’t stop daydreaming about. The problem is that Riley and Ted barely manage the occasional awkward conversation, let alone a date. So is it so wrong for her to start talking to other guys who are obviously interested in her? There’s only one way to find out!

KISSING TED CALLAHAN (AND OTHER GUYS) is a comedic foray into the world of teen dating that certainly has some memorable moments. Riley and her friends aren’t the most mature bunch, but what teenagers are? Their general lack of suave and social skills adds a little laughter to dating mishaps, especially for neurotic schemer Reid. It also adds a nice level of honesty for Riley, who has the best of intentions but stumbles as she discovers what’s important in a relationship and why a few desirable qualities don’t make a perfect boyfriend. At some points, Riley can grate on your nerves a little, especially when she realizes that she’s being deceitful but doesn’t feel guilty enough to immediately fix it. Riley is oftentimes her own worst enemy, but watching her figure it all out is quite the journey!

Riley’s surrounding cast of characters is always interesting. We see the most personality from Reid thanks to the Passenger Manifest. While he’s not the voice of reason, we got a total kick out of his awkward teenage desperation. (Minor spoiler: We also love that Riley and Reid are not designed to end up together despite being close friends.) There’s also the bandmates– Lucy, Riley’s former best friend who she just feels inadequate around now, and Nathan, Lucy’s boyfriend and the guy who thinks he knows best. There’s also Garrick, a charming likable guy still crushing on his ex, and Milo, a nice-enough-but-kinda-creepy college kid who spends far too much time hitting on a high school girl. And then there’s Ted Callahan. Oh, Ted! Let’s just say that the interactions with him were a highlight of the novel.

While it’s not perfect, KISSING TED CALLAHAN (AND OTHER GUYS) does a solid job balancing between amusing and absurd to create a realistic teen story. It’s a lighter read, one that would be great for a vacation or the beach!

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

KISSING TED CALLAHAN (AND OTHER GUYS) hits stores on April 7, 2015.

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