Ramona Lambert is a typical shy, artistic sixteen-year-old. She has a best friend whom she’s known since they were in diapers; parents who love her; a love for cosplay; and a crush on the cute boy in her class.
The only problem? Her best friend moved away; her parents don’t quite understand her love of cosplay; and she is pretty sure her crush has no idea she exists.
To escape her troubles, Ramona turns to cosplay and her original character, Rel, who gives her the confidence and freedom that she lacks in real life. Embracing this confidence, she decides to strike up an email conversation with her crush, Caleb Wolfe, from her cosplay account in the hopes getting to know him . . . and maybe win his heart. Then as Caleb and Ramona are swept up in their emails back and forth to each other, and Ramona falls even harder as he opens up about his hopes, insecurities, and his own geeky loves.
However, as Caleb starts to grow closer and closer to Rel, he also strikes up a friendship with Ramona, who knows she can’t keep the truth about Rel from Caleb but isn’t sure she is ready to risk losing him. With an important cosplay convention coming up and the anxiety of her double-life weighing on her, Ramona has to decide if she’ll hide behind her cosplay character forever or take the chance and let Caleb see the real her–because he might actually like her for who she is.
This book was cute with a very interesting main character that for the most part, I enjoyed. Ramona was a creative character, which as I’ve said many times before, I love to see in books. Maybe it’s because I can relate to them no matter their age, as I’m a creative in my own way (writer).
Ramona was also a very introverted character, which was another way I related to her, but when she was on her cosplay forums or at cosplay convention she was more likely to put herself out there somewhat. She found it easy to make friends on the cosplay forums since they weren’t in-person social interactions. She wasn’t afraid of being made fun of on them like she was in-person with her younger cousins, who said she wasn’t “Black enough” because of her nerdy interests. I hated that she felt that way because you should be able to like what you like without other people commenting on it, but sadly, that’s how our world works.
It was even harder for Ramona at school with her social anxiety since her best friend, Mandra, moved away, though they do still keep in touch with phone calls and texts. Between that and her anxiety and awkwardness with Caleb, the boy she likes, this felt like a very relevant story for teens because that’s an issue for so many of them, and it’s something us adults remember from our teen years. It was fun to see Ramona come out of her shell a bit with Caleb, both online and in-person, and I could feel the guilt she had going through her about not connecting her two lives and telling Caleb the truth about her online persona. While I didn’t know exactly how Caleb would find out, I knew the moment the set-up for it happened, and I’m sure it was obvious for other readers.
Ramona’s family annoyed me a little, as they expected Ramona to decide on a ‘practical’ major for college in a few years, like they did and her older sister, Noelle. They completely disregard Ramona’s passion for sketching and costume making as something she wants to do with her life, deeming them as “just hobbies” which I feel happens so often for the creatives in this world. I understand parents wanting their children to have successful careers, but more often than not they end up squashing the passion out of their kids. Luckily for Ramona, while her parents don’t agree 100% to her wanting to attend art school, they do leave it as something they can talk about and consider for Ramona’s future.
While this book isn’t one of my favorites, it’s still a cute read and it’s definitely a character-driven story as you see how Ramona learns to not be ashamed of what she likes and wants to do with her life. Her growth is the highlight of the story, as well as the cosplay convention she attends early in the book. The book has a bit of a You’ve Got Mail vibe, but not huge, since the emails peter out as the story goes on and Ramona connects with Caleb more in real life.
It’s a book I’d recommend for all the nerds out there. You’re likely to really enjoy this one.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
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