The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen (2016)
YA Fiction | Contemporary | Romance
“Taylor Simmons is screwed.
Things were hard enough when her single-minded dedication to her studies earned her the reputation of being an Ice Queen, but after getting drunk at a party and waking up next to bad boy surfer Evan McKinley, the entire school seems intent on tearing Taylor down with mockery and gossip.
Desperate to salvage her reputation, Taylor persuades Evan to pretend they’re in a serious romantic relationship. After all, it’s better to be the girl who tames the wild surfer than just another notch on his surfboard.” -Goodreads
Expected Publication Date: June 7, 2016
pooled ink Review:
Okay so I just finished reading The Way to Game the Walk of Shame and I think to put my overall reaction into an intricate articulate dance of words I would have to say YAAAAAAASSSSSS!!!!!!! Ahem, sorry, please excuse my unprofessional outburst.
This book is literally the cutest book I’ve ever read. Granted I mostly read dark fantasy books so there aren’t many for me to compare this to but regardless of that minor detail this book has me squirming and smiling and almost (although I’m embarrassed to admit it) squealing with glee.
First of all ,this story takes place in Wilmington, NC, which is where I went to college! UNCW SEAHAWKS! So I found the setting incredibly familiar and beloved. Second of all, Taylor and I share quite the smattering of similarities including her type-A personality, her drive and obsession with school grades and organization, and her secret stash of sarcasm and witchy thoughts, so I was able to immediately connect to her. Thirdly, this book is a romance and it was the cutest romance I have perhaps maybe ever read. Maybe I’m just still living off the high from binge-reading this book in one sitting and falling in love with every page, but the only thing that could make me smile wider would be a surprise supply of fresh cotton candy. (I’m not kidding, one of my favorite parts about visiting my family in Mexico is the fresh 100% real sugar cotton candy).
The plot in some ways made me think of the Disney animated movie Lady and the Tramp (a childhood favorite of mine) but mixing in the popular romance theme of hottie and the nerd. Everything unfolded at what felt like a natural pace with all the ups, downs, whats, and crazies that one could only expect from such a set-up.
Taylor and Evan may not have done anything that alcohol-induced night but Taylor has too much at stake to just let the rumors fly, not to mention the seriously sexist treatment she was getting from the other kids at school (I mean honestly, why does that happen in life? The guy gets praised while the girl gets destroyed). Taylor, in all her pre-lawyer insanity, draws up a contract where she and Evan will agree to pretend to date until the school moves on from their “incident” but more importantly it would create the façade that they are totally dating so that them leaving the party together isn’t weird at all. Taylor Simmons would not be some trashy one-night stand.
Of course they’re going to end up falling in love for real. We all know that’s what is going to happen but that doesn’t matter because that’s totally not what will keep you hooked anyway. Sort of like those murder mysteries where we witness the murder and then the thrill of the show is watching the detective (okay my mind keeps thinking of Columbo) tease apart the crime scene and puzzle together the truth. We get to watch how Taylor and Evan unwittingly fall in love with each other from a glorious front and center seat.
The plot was wonderful. The characters were alive. Taylor? She’s a relatable blend of awkward nerd, closet comedian, and Wonder Woman. Evan? He’s the perfect balance between bad boy and sweetheart and 3-dimensional human being. Carly? She is basically the coolest friend (also shout out to us Theatre nerds!). Aaron is also a pretty amazing friend. Brian? Hmm, perhaps he is not much more than a plot device but he’s still a good person. I didn’t like Lauren, but we’re not really supposed to. Both Brian and Lauren were good characters though, and completely necessary. Also, this may seem weird or insignificant to most people, but I love the parents’ in this book. They were caring, diverse, wise, attentive, human, and normal. It’s just refreshing to read a book where even though all families have problems, it doesn’t keep them from being family.
The story is told in alternating POVs: Taylor’s and Evan’s. I loved this approach because it was a nice change for a romance book to finally get inside the guy’s head and know what he was thinking or feeling. Also getting the inside scoop on both Taylor and Evan made the whole thing that much cuter and exciting. Their relationship was the golden mix of unexpected and perfect. Sort of like two puzzle pieces found beside each other except that they were rotated the wrong way so they didn’t realize that their seemingly opposing personalities were actually one twist away from a perfect fit. They’re two halves of a whole (um, this is a separate analogy. Do two-piece puzzles even exist?).
I dig that Taylor didn’t try to change Evan and vice versa. Sure Evan nudged Taylor to have a little fun and Taylor encouraged Evan to apply for college, but really they just found themselves enjoying letting one another be who they are. As crazy as Taylor’s contract idea was I think it took off the pressure between them. Without it they probably would never have ever gotten together, but even if they had, having the contract let them not care quite so much about impressing one another because it was all just pretend…until it wasn’t.
Yes, I swooned. I am a college graduate who swooned at a high school romance. NO SHAME! Would I go through high school all over again if it meant having a happy and forever (and no one can tell me otherwise) romance like Taylor and Evan’s? Yes, oh heck yes I would. Ah well, no use dwelling on what could have (but seriously probably never would have) been.
When I finished reading this book I really felt like I could write a thesis on it but it seems I was more filled with emotions than actual words. No joke, I kept smiling and giggling throughout the entire book. I’m pretty sure my dog kept giving me judgmental side-glances as though questioning my sanity for swooning at a glowing computer screen with little black type all over it. Leave me alone, Aussie!
The Way to Game the Walk of Shame is the cutest heart-swelling romance to hit the shelves in ages. Full of depth, fun, sincerity, and the typical quagmire of high school, this book will tease out a goofy grin and a burst of laughter from your lips. Not too heavy, not too shallow, this story strikes a fantastic winning balance and ultimately captures the glow of young love.
P.S. When Kimmy plays “date night” with Evan? Oh I just died. Easily one of my favorite scenes in the whole book.
Purchase here: The Way to Game the Walk of Shame
Meet Jenn P. Nguyen!
Jenn Nguyen fell in love with books in third grade and spent the rest of her school years reading through lunchtime and giving up recess to organize the school library. She has a degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans and still lives in the city with her husband. Jenn spends her days reading, dreaming up YA romances, and binge watching Korean dramas all in the name of ‘research’. The Way to Game the Walk of Shame is her debut novel. -Macmillan Publishers