“It’s when bisexuals start to believe the biphobia they’re surrounded by. We’re told that our sexuality isn’t real, or that we’re straight if we’re with another gender, and that our feelings don’t count if we’ve never dated a certain gender, that kind of crap. Then we hear it so many times we doubt ourselves.”
One Sentence Summary: When Darcy, the mastermind behind Locker 89, is caught doing business and blackmailed into being a relationship coach, she’s faced with uncomfortable truths and biphobia.
POV & Tense: First person & past tense
Mood: “It’s when bisexuals start to believe the biphobia they’re surrounded by. We’re told that our sexuality isn’t real, or that we’re straight if we’re with another gender, and that our feelings don’t count if we’ve never dated a certain gender, that kind of crap. Then we hear it so many times we doubt ourselves.”
Themes: Biphobia, friendship, relationships
Romance: Enemies-to-lovers (light)
Rep: Bisexual main character, trans side character, Vietnamese-American side character, bi side character, gay side character, pan nonbinary side character (and possibly more that I can’t remember!)
Content Warnings: alcohol & alcoholism, biphobia, drugs, vomiting, parents who are abusive toward each other
This book is for you if: you like romantic comedies, deadpan humor, and a careful balance of serious and lighthearted issues.
Ohhhhh my god, y’all. Perfect on Paper is the total package: smartly written, characters you’ll instantly love, great pace, and deals with biphobia beautifully and head-on. I really can’t do it better justice than what Sophie Gonzales says about the book herself: “Its main pairing is m/f. And it’s unapologetically, intensely, queer. All of those things are true at once… This is, at its core, a very queer story. This story is for everyone, but, most especially, it is for my bi–and my pan–readers. You are queer, because you are, and who you fall for or date or kiss does not alter that. No one else can change you.”
Darcy Phillips is the mastermind behind Locker 89, an anonymous relationship advice business run out of her school’s locker 89. She has an impressive 95% success rate and has managed to keep her identity a secret since she started it two years ago. But when Brougham catches her doing locker business, he blackmails Darcy into becoming his own dating coach to help him win back his ex-girlfriend. All the while, Darcy’s best friend—who Darcy’s in love with—starts dating a girl that Darcy knows for a fact is hiding something from her. Nothing goes according to plan.
First and foremost, I would kill for Darcy Phillips. The poor girl’s just trying to help people and do what she thinks is right, but she gets a little confused because she’s a sixteen-year-old and life is a little confusing for all of us sometimes. I love how Sophie Gonzales writes Darcy’s thought processes and how she lets Darcy apologize and own up to her mistakes. I don’t know about you, but I keep picking up books with super toxic relationships and zero communication; it’s refreshing and reassuring to see a YA book with realistic teenagers making realistic decisions, yet communicating in a healthy way and resolving their issues
As for the other characters, Darcy’s sister, Ainsley, is a definite instant-favorite. She’s such an amazing, supportive big sister, and plays an important role in guiding Darcy. She’s also hilarious. Brooke, the best friend, is a little annoying at times with her honeymoon-phase behavior, but within reason and because the plot calls for it. Brougham… oh, man, I love Brougham. He’s funny, smart, and the perfect love interest. I also really appreciate the portrayal of realistic family dynamics.
The thing I love most about Gonzales’s books is that they just flow. I remember reading the ARC of Only Mostly Devastated in under twenty-four hours on a cross-country train ride—something almost entirely unheard of for my own reading habits. Perfect on Paper was basically no different; I’d planned on spacing out my reading of it over the course of a week but wound up reading almost half it in one night. I couldn’t put it down, and when I had to because life, I thought about it constantly. The writing is smart, funny, and well-done. Gonzales balances the serious with the lighthearted in just the right way to keep the reader invested in the tension but not emotionally drained. It also doesn’t hurt that the whole book is so funny.
And, last but not least, biphobia is real. Even Brooke makes an offhand comment about Darcy having the ability to not be discriminated against when she’s dating a guy; Brooke didn’t realize what she’d said was harmful, but it stuck with Darcy and impacted her entire psyche, to the point where she felt a relationship with a boy couldn’t possibly work out because it would diminish her status as queer and she wouldn’t belong in her school’s Queer & Questioning Club anymore. But of course, Gonzales lets Darcy speak out about it, get reassurance and encouragement, and she’s then able to pursue Brougham feeling comfortable and proud. When you read the scene—you’ll know it when you get to it—I guarantee you’ll get at least a little teary-eyed. I’m so happy for all my bi and pan friends, and everyone who falls under those categories, who get this kind of important representation. I only hope writers continue to write books like this one. (I’m definitely giving side-eye to the two or three books I read last year with blatant biphobia.)
Overall, Perfect on Paper is a blast full of friendship, love, fighting biphobia, and great writing. This is such an important book. A must have on your TBR list!
Thank you Wednesday Books and NetGalley for providing a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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