Thank you to Razorbill for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review! (This is one of the first ARCs I’ve asked for from a publisher and they were so awesome!!)
It seemed like a good plan at first.
When the only other virgin in her group of friends loses it at Keely’s own eighteenth birthday party, she’s inspired to take things into her own hands. She wants to have that experience too (well, not exactly like that–but with someone she trusts and actually likes), so she’s going to need to find the guy, and fast. Problem is, she’s known all the boys in her small high school forever, and it’s kinda hard to be into a guy when you watched him eat crayons in kindergarten.
So she can’t believe her luck when she meets a ridiculously hot new guy named Dean. Not only does he look like he’s fallen out of a classic movie poster, but he drives a motorcycle, flirts with ease, and might actually be into her.
But Dean’s already in college, and Keely is convinced he’ll drop her if he finds out how inexperienced she is. That’s when she talks herself into a new plan: her lifelong best friend, Andrew, would never hurt or betray her, and he’s clearly been with enough girls that he can show her the ropes before she goes all the way with Dean. Of course, the plan only works if Andrew and Keely stay friends–just friends–so things are about to get complicated.
I went into The Best Laid Plans expecting lots of sex, like a To All The Boys fake date situation but with sex. What I got instead was a book about female empowerment. Girls learning how to own their sexuality and that the rules that apply to them don’t apply to the boys and how messed up that actually is. I’m loving all the sex positive and female positive books that have been coming out lately. I don’t want to stick a feminist label on this because that turns people away, but it had a strong message that I think young girls deserve.
The friendships in this book were so on point, especially the girls. Keely and Hannah had this supportive friendship that contrasted deeply with the other two girls in their group who were just catty. It showed what a really friendship, one where you lift each other up, should look like versus one that judged and put down. Keely and Andrew were the real friendship here though. They were such absolute dorks and I loved them both, especially their Hitchcock references. When Keely didn’t have girl friends he was there for her in her most crucial girl moments and it was just so sweet.
Obviously there was some romance going down. I’m not going to elaborate too much, but feelings were a tangled mess and it just felt so real. There were some steamy scenes though with my favorite involving a bath tub and another with some good old polar bear underwear.
To me the romance took a backseat in the major plot though which was sex; when should you lose it, how it should be lost, how girls are considered sluts and shamed for sleeping with guys while a guy doing the same thing is never called out for it. Society sets double standards and those were front and center in The Best Laid Plans. Teenagers are looking to books and if we can have literary examples for them to look up to, to follow, then maybe we can have the next generations take control of their sexuality and own it. It also showed how while Keely struggled with sex and the timing along with her feelings surrounding it that it was only because she was trying to force something because she thought she needed to. When you know you know and it’s okay to say no or wait, whether you have a good reason or you just don’t want to.
The Best Laid Plans had that romcom feel I was searching for, with romantic moments and swoon worthy gestures that we’ve come to expect in the genre. I think this is one of the books showing the new generation of romcoms though, one with multiple messages to be learned reflecting the changes we see happening all around us. It was powerful and insightful while also being messy, chaotic and overall a book about teens for teens.