Basketball and Nerds

Unrequited love. A lot of authors have written books about this particular subject matter. It’s one of the most common tropes used in romance novels. And no matter how many times we have read about unrequited love, we still couldn’t get enough of it. Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in us. Maybe it’s our own familiarity with these stories. Maybe it’s the hope that maybe the book that we are reading has the happy ending we wish we have had in the past.

Every one of us in a way fell in love with someone dear to us. With someone very close to us. Our best friend. Our next door neighbor. Our classmate.  We all have experienced unrequited love growing up. No use in denying it. We all have. And reading these books not only helps us relive the innocent and sweet feelings of it, deep down in our hearts, we want the story for these characters to have that clichéd happy ending. We hope for the love one gives be reciprocated.

A Short History of the Girl Next Door, written by Jared Reck, is a novel that tells us this familiar story. Boy falls in love with his girl best friend. Girl falls in love with another guy. Boy loses it. He is jealous but can’t say what he feels. He can’t tell his girl best friend he loves her. Boy becomes an asshole of some sort. Their friendship falls apart. They reconcile, and just before you know what’s going to happen next, a tragic twist happens ending all the hopes and dreams of the boy pining for his girl best friend.

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This novel is the last book I’ve read last year. I really really loved this book. It’s a fast and easy read. The voice of the protagonist, Matt, is also funny so his humor helps a lot in how the story is told. I always believe that what makes a book great depends not only on how great the story is but also on the voice telling that story. This story has been told a million times before but in this book, though you’re put in very familiar territory, it still feels fresh thanks to Matt and his sense of humor.

Matt is a basketball player, and a Star Wars geek. Tabby, the best friend, is also a Star Wars geek, and she possesses all the qualities a boy likes in a girl. She’s beautiful, kind, and sweet, quirky too at times especially with Matt and his family. Matt and Tabby grew up together. Tabby is treated as part of Matt’s family so you know why they are very close to one another.

The way the writer treated the plot twist and the events after it is what made me a fan of the book. Spoiler alert! Tabby dies. And the sad thing is that it happens right after Matt and Tabby reconciled. After her death, the book raises an important question about grief. Who should grieve for Tabby? Is Matt the one who should be grieving more and not her months – old boyfriend Liam? Who has the right to mourn for her? People who have known her all her life or people who just knew her as Liam’s girlfriend?

The portrayal of grief and hurt and how people deal with them is also very realistic. Matt was hurt, and as he was hurting for Tabby’s death, he felt like his hurt matters more than the others’. As someone who recently lost a friend, how grief is presented in this book helped me understand it better. That everyone grieves differently. Some hurt more. Some less. Some people show it. Some people don’t. And time doesn’t dictate if your grief is warranted or not.

A Short History of the Girl Next Door is a great book. Make sure to check it out. I will end this post with my favorite passage from the book.

“At any given moment, you can miss your friend so bad that your eyes burn and you have to put down your pen.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t pick it up again.”

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