Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor
Out Now from Wednesday Books; 336 pages
Content Warning: Strong language, underage drinking, anxiety, social anxiety, bullying, vomiting, mild sexuality
About the Author: “Serena Kaylor likes to write about that first flush of summer love, whispered conversations at midnight, and endings happy enough to make your toes curl. She grew up running wild as a changeling through North Carolina swamps, and hiding in bookstacks until she was dragged back into the real world. Through a weird twist of fate, she wandered from libraries into medicine, but when the moon shines down onto her balcony amongst the trees; she’ll pull out her laptop and dream of other lives. When she’s not writing, she can be found experimenting in her kitchen, wallpapering any blank surface, and hugging every dog that will let her. Her debut novel, LONG STORY SHORT, will be published by Wednesday Books in Spring 2022. She is represented by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.” (Bio taken from author’s website.)
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Math genius Beatrice Quinn has her heart set on going to Oxford University, but her parents worry about Beatrice living alone. To prove that she can get out of her comfort zone, Beatrice’s parents pose a challenge: go to the Connecticut Shakeaspearen Summer Academy, complete a list of social tasks, and live like a “normal teenager.” Soon enough, Beatrice is roped into the camp’s production of Romeo and Juliet and also finds herself an enemy of the resident Romeo. Long story short, Beatrice must face the drama head-on and just maybe start to see herself in a new light, too.
Serena Kaylor’s debut novel made my book-loving, theatre-kid heart so happy. I mean, what’s not to adore about a socially awkward and lovable main character being thrust into a Shakespeare summer camp? The diversity in the cast of characters, especially in their backgrounds and future aspirations, added a lot of depth to the story. I don’t often see theatre as a career talked about in YA books, so I really enjoyed reading conversations between characters who love acting and design and want to translate their passions into a profession. I also greatly appreciate the fact that Beatrice has a therapist and addresses her anxiety openly. While Beatrice’s relationship with therapy and her mental health doesn’t take center stage in this book completely, the two are definitely present and impactful components of the story. The last thing I just have to talk about is the enemies-to-lovers romance between Beatrice and Nik (the resident Romeo). I thoroughly enjoyed their banter, as well as the way the two casually and unintentionally became vulnerable with each other. Also, you can’t really go wrong with a Shakespeare quote-off between a hot theatre prodigy and a nerdy, stubborn protagonist! Finishing this book was such a sweet sorrow, and now I am eagerly anticipating Kaylor’s next project!
(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.)
PRR Assistant Director, Erika Brittain