Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert (336 pages)

Unfamiliar Feelings Between Old Friends
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Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert (336 pages)

Two Goals with the Same Solution are found in Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute

Bradley and Celine couldn’t be more different. Bradley is a star soccer player and his charm is inescapable. His OCD is managed well enough that hardly anyone notices when he’s struggling. Celine is compelling in her own way. Her TikTok page – filled with conspiracy theories – has a large following and receives a lot of engagement. While they’re leading very different lives now, Celine and Bradley used to be best friends until Bradley ditched Celine for the popular kids; at least, that’s the way Celine sees it. 

But, Celine is looking toward the future. She jumps at the chance to meet her personal hero through a program that offers university scholarships. The catch is that Celine will have to spend weeks in the English and Scottish forests. She is truly shocked when she realizes that Bradley is going, too. He hopes the scholarships will allow him to go to school loan-free. Stuck together in close quarters without any creature comforts, Celine and Bradley have no choice but to work through their past misunderstandings and rebuild their once unbreakable bond. 

Dynamic Banter and Catching Feelings

Celine and Bradley are fully-developed characters, so this book was difficult to put down. They’re both dealing with real and substantial challenges — Celine with her father’s abandonment and Bradley with his OCD — but these obstacles are presented in a way that is authentic to how many teens handle them. That is, many teens face extraordinary challenges while maintaining a collected demeanor. They try to downplay their struggles for two main reasons: to convince others that they’re fine and to convince themselves that they can handle any issue. 

Watching both characters trust each other again so they felt they could let their guard down was engaging. The banter and idiosyncrasies are uniquely Gen Z, and I found that earnest and endearing. Both characters experience real growth and change at a pace that seems appropriate, given their circumstances. 

The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars

Talia Hibbert is known for her witty and captivating adult fiction, but she really nails this YA story. The characters seem like people you know and grow throughout the story, which is satisfying. The survivalist setting adds some excitement and offers unique situations through which Celine and Bradley can struggle, making their transformations feel earned even in a relatively short time. I certainly recommend this book for people who have enjoyed any of Hibbert’s other works.  .

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Rachel Gomes is a 30-something high school English teacher who lives with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their son. Rachel is a voracious reader who loves to learn and has her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. She’s happiest listening to podcasts and talking to friends about the latest news in nerd culture.

Favourite book: Don’t make me choose between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter
Favourite brunch spot: The Farmer’s Table


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