This YA novel has everything: tweeting twins, grilled cheese sandwiches, Nashville girls baking feminist desserts, dive teams, teens crying, and celebrity endorsements.
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord centers around Pepper and Jack, two high school seniors attending a swanky private school in Manhattan. While they live in a Gossip Girl-like world of swanky luxury, things don’t feel luxurious to the main characters. Pepper is a Nashville transplant, unsure of her place in NYC and in her own family. Her parents are recently divorced. Her father stayed in Nashville, her older sister Paige went to school at Penn, and so Pepper is alone with her mega business mom. (The family owns a mom-and-pop burger shop that quickly turned into a top fast-food restaurant in America.) Jack grew up in Manhattan, but still feels like an outsider at school. His twin brother is the popular, successful one. That leaves him as the class clown and family black sheep. Instead of spending his time around Manhattan, Jack mostly sits in his room programming or downstairs helping out in the family deli. His programming hobby led him to create Weasl, an anonymous chat app used by students at his school to build deeper relationships and mess around generally. While Pepper and Jack barely know one another at school, they find themselves facing off in an online battle of wits as Pepper’s family chain seems to have ripped off a grilled cheese recipe from Jack’s family deli.
The name of the book and the cover basically lead the reader to know what exactly to expect. I haven’t revealed anything not already apparent. What sets this book apart from a lot of book is the humanity of all of the characters. Pepper navigates a lot of complex feelings and emotions about her parents and their divorce, her relationship with her sister, family businesses going large. Jack is trying to figure out how to find his place in the world – to find the courage to be while also keeping his family happy. Emma Lord writes like someone that’s been on the internet and understands the culture (and some subcultures). The ambivalence that the young characters feel about social media in particular was especially interesting to me.
It’s a fun book. Humane without being sentimental, honest without digging up too much, cute without being saccharine. Despite the PG nature of the book, the language moves it up to an R, just FYI. Maybe don’t blast it at work if you get the audiobook. By the way, Emily Shaffer and Dan Bittner do a great job in the audiobook.