A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
CHEESE! CROSSED! LOVERS!
♥ I hope ya’ll are familiar with the synopsis because I’m diving right in with specifics!
WHY YES THAT WAS A HIGH DIVE JOKE THANK YOU FOR COMING
♥ Pepper starts out so very tightly wound because she’s under so much pressure from her uber-competitive private school in NYC. Her family also owns a huge fast-food burger chain who have just launched a new line of grilled cheese sandwiches. Pepper’s only real relief is the baking blog she runs with her older sister Paige, where they come up with crazy recipes like Monster Cake, So Sorry Blondies, and Tailgate Trash Twinkies. But even this isn’t totally free of conflict, because Paige doesn’t get along with their mother and Pepper feels like she has to mediate.
Pepper still lives with her mom, so this is totally understandable. But for me, Paige is on the right side of history here, because their mom is a real piece of work. She leaves her high-school age daughter home alone, in New York City, while she takes off on business trips for days (weeks? it’s not really specified) at a time. Is Pepper old enough to be left alone? Probably, she’s in her senior year, but she doesn’t like being home alone–she gets lonely. And look, Dad is not absolved of guilt here. Her parents are divorced and Dad stayed back home in Nashville, but he doesn’t seem to step in too much when things get really crazy for Pepper, and I think he could have and should have made a difference.
But Mom is actively wildly inappropriate on several levels. First, she’s hoping to expand the business internationally and plans to have the father of one of Pepper’s classmates over for dinner to discuss the possibility of working together. She tells Pepper, on more than one occasion, to talk this meeting up to Landon, his son. The subtext is clear–invite him over sometime, get to know him, become friends. Do anything you can to make him comfortable so that his father will want to invest with us. When she tries to protest, her Mom just replies with variations of “It’ll be good for you.”
But the thing that really made me crazy, that truly shines WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE the whole way through, is the way that she puts her teenage daughter in charge of a MASSIVE CORPORATE TWITTER ACCOUNT. Even though they already employ someone specifically for social media INCLUDING TWITTER. And it’s not just hey, what do you think of this? Pepper is expected to check her phone and respond at all times, to come up with new ideas, and when she says she doesn’t think that going after a small family deli via Twitter is a good idea (after the deli accuses them of stealing their special grilled cheese recipe, which is looking more and more likely), she’s told that basically her opinion doesn’t matter and to keep doing it anyway. Pepper asks several times if she can stop, or if she can shift the narrative, but her mom is always there telling her no, making her do more more more.
Does it sound like I hated this book? Because I didn’t, I loved it so much!
♥ Something that really helps Pepper begin to ultimately unclench a little is her eventual friendship with Pooja, a girl that she thought was her nemesis. They slowly and hesitantly become friends, something that Pepper desperately needs and we get to witness what a Queen Pooja really is.
“I’ve just tried to fix things, where I can. And having Weazel weirdly helped make that happen.”
♥ The Weazel app is nuts. It’s anonymous, and only kids from their school are on it. Everyone is assigned a random animal as a username, and as long as you’re in the main “Hallway” you remain anonymous. BUT if you decide you want to chat one-on-one with anyone, the app will reveal your identities to each other–and you never know when it will be. THIS SOUNDS SO FUN BUT ALSO SO STRESSFUL.
Naturally, the app causes a lot of drama with kids at school, home, and with the principal. It’s also a place where Pepper and Jack are talking to each other one-on-one, but neither of them knows it yet.
♥ It’s not really a spoiler to tell you that Jack is the one who invented Weazel, and not a single other soul knows about it. Not even his identical twin brother, Ethan.
So many complicated feelings about Jack’s twin. Jack constantly feels like everyone likes Ethan better, like his parents value Ethan’s time more than his own, like Jack is expected to take over running the deli for life while Ethan gets to run off and choose his own adventure. The way he describes Ethan paints such a picture:
“Read: being student council president, captain of the dive team, and a star pupil so beloved by our teachers that I heard two of them arguing once in the staff lounge over whether he should win the departmental award for English or math at the end of our junior year, since he wasn’t allowed to win both.”
And then Ethan does things that just bug Jack, like unlocking Jack’s phone using his face, or overcommitting himself and assuming that Jack will pick up his overflow.
“I know he doesn’t mean to do it, but he has a tendency to bite off more than he can chew — and then remember, thanks to me, he has a second mouth.”
People usually can’t tell them apart at first glance, including their parents. Only Grandma Belly and Pepper have ever been able to immediately. Pepper has always know without even looking which one is approaching. For someone who feels like “there’s nothing quite as awkward as living in a shadow that is quite literally the same shape as yours,” this must be such a nice feeling.
“I don’t know how it’s possible to want to get the hell away from someone and actively follow them like they’re a magnet at the same time.”
“…the kind of conversation you already know is going to stick to your skin long after it’s over, long after the person you had it with is gone from your life.”
All quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof of the book