June Chu is the “just good enough” girl. Good enough to line the shelves with a slew of third-place trophies and steal secret kisses from her AP Bio partner, Rhys. But not good enough to meet literally any of her Taiwanese mother’s unrelenting expectations or to get Rhys to commit to anything beyond a well-timed joke.
While June’s mother insists she follow in her (perfect) sister’s footsteps and get a (full-ride) violin scholarship to Northwestern (to study pre-med), June doesn’t see the point in trying too hard if she’s destined to fall short anyway. Instead, she focuses her efforts on making her relationship with Rhys “official.” But after her methodically-planned, tipsily-executed scheme explodes on the level of a nuclear disaster, she flings herself into a new relationship with a guy who’s not allergic to the word “girlfriend.”
But as the line between sex and love blurs, and pressure to map out her entire future threatens to burst, June will have to decide on whose terms she’s going to live her life—even if it means fraying her relationship with her mother beyond repair.
This was an interesting depiction of the turning point between high school and college, where June struggles with her Asian identity, friendships and relationships, all while trying to work out what she wants her future to look like.
However, I’m not sure I appreciated the way men are portrayed in this book. I can’t think of any boy June saw as a friend, she saw herself in relationships with all of them, regardless of their toxic personalities, and got herself hurt frequently for it. If the genders were reversed, June herself would seem like a Nice Guy.
This story did slog for me, as June wandered from guy to guy, getting herself hurt in the process and constantly putting up with being ignored, given racist nicknames and pressured into sex. However, I did enjoy the moments of her relationships with her friends, sister and mom.