How Leigh Ann Kopans made me fall in love with Contemporary Young Adult

The title of this post is probably enough to make my sister’s jaw drop, because anyone who’s known me for a long while knows there is no place in my heart for Contemporary Young Adult. I have read (and enjoyed) maybe two contemp novels in the history of ever, and those were adult literary without a hint of romance. What has always fired my mind has been dark, deep intrigue, sweeping epic accounts of desperation and struggle…at the very least, a scary clairvoyant aunt and a tragic arranged marriage must be present. I read every single Dear America and American Diaries book when I was nine, L.M. Montgomery in my teens, and I was a die hard John Grisham and Michael Crichton addict at seventeen. One of my favorite authors ever is Rafael Sabatini, a troubled soul who wrote historical novels in the ’20s and ’30s — always about dastardly characters enmeshed in nearly every event from the 1500’s to 1800’s. Even Sci-Fi and Fantasy has to feel dark and mortal for me to enjoy it.

Unless they loved a girl who randomly stared off into space and couldn’t hold a conversation particularly well, they weren’t gonna want to go out with me.
–Solving for Ex

Today I want to tell you about this book that made my taste flip flop. It’s no secret that I enjoyed ONE and TWO by Leigh Ann Kopans. They reminded me of X-Men and my huge Sci-Fi phase when I was a kid, and the plot was complicated, sinister, and perfectly executed. Naturally, I wanted to read Leigh Ann’s next book, but…it was a contemporary romance. I typically don’t even touch romance unless the book is a few hundred years old and somebody dies. (I mean, Trzl and Mikel don’t get their dysfunctional relationship from nowhere. I love stories where people can’t figure out how to be good to each other.) I tentatively requested the ARC, secretly afraid I might not finish it…like most contemporaries I’ve picked up.

“Shut up,” I said again, much stronger this time. “You have no right to talk to me like that. Fancy parties and truck bed picnics are not an automatic ticket into my pants.”
–Solving for Ex

Unsuspecting, I started into it. Before I’d even made it two chapters, Ashley’s voice grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I know it will sound weird, but this is the first Young Adult novel I’ve read where I actually related to the emotions of the protagonist on a deep level. Brendan is just the kind of guy I liked in my early teens, but how do you tell a guy you like him if he’s the only real friend you have? Of course you’d be afraid of ruining it. Anyone would be.

Brendan certainly wasn’t trying, and that fact was quickly changing my attitude from sad to pissed off, and it looked like it could head into me not giving a damn.
–Solving for Ex

See, this, this how I remember romance as a teenager feeling. The silence between Ashley and Brendan is deafening. I know that feel by heart. Vincent, on the other hand, is all smooth and doing everything showy — at first — but Ashley has a gut feeling about him that keeps her from getting in too deep too fast. I made many a decision based on that gut instinct. I love seeing that in another character. She’s not perfect by any means, and neither is Brendan. (Oh, gosh, no. He’s not perfect at all. But that’s why he felt so real. Like someone I’m sure I knew.)

Mathletes is everything to Ashley. For her, it’s the only place she gets to be accomplished, admired, and completely in the moment with Brendan. Until Sofia shows up and starts hitting on Brendan and ruins everything. Gahh, Brendan is so blind. Just like many a teenage boy. I can’t stop going on about how freaking true to life these people are. You just have to read this book.

I pictured Vincent there. I’d never seen him even close to dirt, or dirty or sweaty or otherwise disheveled in any way. But I supposed it could happen.
–Solving for Ex

The ending wasn’t what I expected, but that’s all I can say without spoiling it. I loved the whole story so much that I had to buy a few copies of the paperback so I have some to give away, and one for my favorites shelf, obvi, because this is definitely one I’ll be re-reading until it’s dog-eared. I don’t know if there is another contemporary that will pull me in so thoroughly and make me skip meals like this one did, but I have to thank Leigh Ann a million times for making me love something from a genre I formerly hated. I’m reading every single one that Ms. Kopans releases — but I’m sure you already guessed that.

Solving for Ex releases TODAY (!!!) and is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in eBook and paperback. Add it to your Goodreads TBR here, and follow @LeighAnnKopans on Twitter or check out her website for more about her other novels.

1 crush on your best friend +
1 gorgeous, scheming new girl +
1 Mathletics competition =
1 big mess

SIMPLIFY.

Ashley Price doesn’t have much in life after being bullied so hard she had to leave her old school to live with her aunt and uncle in Pittsburgh. But the camera she borrowed from her best friend and secret crush Brendan, and her off the charts math abilities, make things a lot more bearable. Plus, since Brendan is the captain, making the school Mathletes team should be easy.

But when gorgeous new girl Sofia rolls in and steals Brendan, Ashley’s place on the team, and her fragile foothold on the Mansfield Park Prep social totem pole, it’s on. Sofia is everything Ashley left her old school to escape. The only thing Ashley didn’t count on is Sofia’s sexy twin brother Vincent.

Vincent is not only the hottest boy in school, he’s charming, sweet, and he’s got his eye on Ashley. He’s also not taking no for an answer. There’s no real reason Ashley shouldn’t like Vincent, but with the battle lines being drawn between her and Sofia, Ashley’s not sure which side he’s on. Or which side she wants him to be on.

She does know Sofia is trouble with a capital T, and she’s determined to make Brendan see it.

SOLVING FOR EX is a YA contemporary romance that remixes Mansfield Park as Clueless meets Mean Girls in a crazy mix of high school society, mathletic competition, and teenage romance.

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