Review: Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales
In Sophie Gonzales’ Perfect on Paper, Leah on the Offbeat meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: a bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her classmates is hired by the hot guy to help him get his ex back
Her advice, spot on. Her love life, way off.
• Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes―for a fee.
• Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
• Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.
• Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else.
• Does not appreciate being blackmailed.
However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89―out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service―that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach―at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.
Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.
Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong?
Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales
I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This has not affected my opinions in any way.
I’ve been putting off writing this review for quite some time now, but I guess I need to try and be coherent now. If you follow me like anywhere I’m sure you’ve seen me screaming about this book—it even made it to #5 on my favourites list for 2020—because I absolutely adored it, but actually sitting down and putting that love into words has proven to be difficult. But I’m going to try, so buckle up.
I think the first thing to talk about is how much I adore Sophie Gonzales’ writing. If you like voicey contemporaries, her books are definitely the books for you. She has such a distinctive style, but still manages to differentiate the narrator from one book to another, and honestly what I wouldn’t give to be able to write voice like she does. It’s always a good sign when the protagonist’s internal monologue can make me laugh out loud, and this book had me laughing a lot. Darcy’s narration is just delightful.
And on that note: Darcy. Our protagonist. Darcy Phillips is a hot mess, but in the very best way. If you dislike characters who are messy and selfish and sometimes do things that are less than great . . . Darcy is going to frustrate you big time. If you’re like me and you love messy characters . . . you’re still going to want to yell at Darcy once or twice, but you’ll probably love her too. I think—as much as I wanted to scream at her on occasion—that how messy and flawed she is was what I loved about her the most. She has a lot on her plate, and she’s not exactly handling it the best, but she genuinely does have so much good in her, and she cares so much. Also she’s so freaking smart and I love that for her, like she’s such a nerd and she’s so intelligent about relationships and stuff, and she . . . doesn’t always know how to apply that to her own life, but it made her narration so interesting.
Honestly, I think my favourite part of the book is how it deals with relationships. Darcy has set up a business giving out relationship advice, and seeing her analyze all these different relationships and give this insightful advice was so fascinating. And the way it contrasted with the actual relationships in the book—and how their messiness wasn’t so easy to just fix—really drove home the point that all of this advice she was giving, while generally good advice, was sometimes easier on paper than it was in reality.
Although Darcy’s advice focused on romantic relationships, all the different types of relationships in the book were so well done. I especially loved how messy and complicated the friendships were. Some of them made me really soft, some of them made me want to scream, but all of them were so perfectly written, and I would like to scream a lot because I had feelings. Her friendship with Brooke was definitely not . . . peak healthiness, but that only made it an even more interesting dynamic to explore. Both of them loved each other very much, and they really mattered to each other, but they also had a lot of pent up stuff that they needed to talk about and didn’t, and it hurt to read but ahhh it was written so well. The family relationships were also really nuanced and well done. 10/10 would like to write character dynamics this well please.
Of course, as wonderful as the friendships and family relationships are, this book is ultimately a rom-com, and so that leaves us with the romance left to talk about. And let me tell you, the romance in this is incredible. The tension, the tenderness, the banter . . . all of it is top notch. Darcy and Brougham make such a good couple (and I would do absolutely anything for Brougham, just saying), and I’m just *screams* Seriously they’re so cute omg, I absolutely adore these two dorks. And like if you love banter? You want this book.
(also I just want to note, I was slightly wary of how they were going to get from blackmail to like. a healthy relationship. but I swear it does actually work out in a really respectful way that worked really well!)
Lastly, I want to touch on the queer rep in this book, because it’s such an important part of it. It’s so delightfully queer, and there’s a lot of queer joy in it, but it also addresses biphobia and how that comes from within the community as much as it does from without, and I think it has some very necessary conversations about that. I also really appreciated how the side characters spanned a lot of different identities, and it was nice to see a cast of queer characters that wasn’t all cis and allo.
Anyways in short: go read this book. It’s so fun and sweet and heartfelt and funny and also I’ll love you forever if you come talk to me about it pls