Celine Bangura and Bradley “Brad” Graeme used to be best friends until Brad callously decided to ditch Celine and get with the popular crowd (this is Celine’s interpretation of past events, anyway). Now, every time they are near each other, they trade insults or compete academically. Their mothers are still best friends, though, which means they keep hearing glowing accounts of any accomplishment the other has achieved.
One of Celine’s dreams is to become a lawyer, like her role model Katherine Breakspeare. She wants to become powerful and successful, so she can pay back her mother for the decades of hard work of raising two daughters after Celine’s dad left (to start a new family with his mistress). Rubbing her success in her dad’s face wouldn’t exactly be a downside either. Brad’s parents think he wants to be a lawyer, but secretly he wants to become a science fiction writer. When it turns out that the Breakspeare Enrichment Program, a demanding survival course involving several hikes in the woods and a strong focus on cooperation, is opened up to high schoolers, Celine becomes determined to nab a spot. The top three graduates of the BEP are given full scholarships at the university of their choice, while other graduates are almost always guaranteed internships at a number of fancy businesses. Imagine Celine’s surprise when Brad turns out to go for the same program.
To Celine, a scholarship would ensure her place at a top university; to Brad, it would allow him to afford a flat by himself (Brad struggles with anxiety and germophobia, so the idea of sharing a living space with someone who doesn’t understand him is a nightmare to him). Multiple-day hikes in the woods will of course present their own challenges to both teenagers, but they are both stubborn and very determined to succeed. As they are forced to spend a lot more time together, they start to rediscover what once made them such good friends, and as is so often the case with enemies, the jump to love isn’t that far. However, Celine is plagued with emotional baggage and insecurities from when her father left and while deep down, she’s head over heels for Brad – she insists on them playing it casual. Can Brad convince her that he would never leave her, like her rat of a dad? And can Brad and Celine survive all the challenges of the BEP to win the exclusive scholarships?
Full review on my blog.