Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape.
When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan.
Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute (really cute), and he may be an eligible Jewish single (hard to find south of Atlanta), but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down.
But as the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…
The truest and most positive way I can start this review is by saying that it’s impossible not to notice that this book is incredibly well-meaning. It’s written with such earnestness and belief in its story, and I don’t see that often, so I have to start off by saying that. It’s as cute, bookish, and bright-eyed as it sets out to be. Was it a perfect book? Well, no, few are. But what “Recommended for You” gets right is its chipper tone and commitment to its story and characters.
At first, I didn’t think I would like Shoshanna. She, like me, tends toward the over-the-top, and I can’t tell whether it was because of secondhand embarrassment or just plain annoyance that I didn’t like her. But I’m glad I stuck with it, because a lot of the book is actually about her journey to realizing that about herself and learning to be, er, a little less overzealous at inappropriate times, and she matures without losing any of what makes her Shoshanna. I am all about positive growth, and I’m also all about being true to yourself, quirks and all, so I loved that she was able to do both. Her sincerity was hard not to find endearing after a while. I also loved the bookstore aspect. The work environment was great and I loved the coworkers’ dynamics, and of course, Shoshanna’s bookishness was delightfully relatable.
Where this book fell a little short, eerily similarly to its protagonist, was in its overzealousness. I felt like “Recommended for You” was trying to do a LOT – we have the romance development, the work at the bookstore, the friend drama, the parents fighting…almost every source of conflict that is common in YA contemporary books was here, and it was all just…Much. It was So Much. And there were some really forced conversations about social justice that, while they had good messages, felt extremely shoehorned. In a fast, fluffy read, the weirdly forced social commentary and ~15,000 different conflicts felt like they weighed it down. There wasn’t really a need for that and I think the book would be stronger if it stuck to one or two conflicts instead of subscribing to the “every area of the protagonist’s life must fall apart!” notion.
However, none of that could abash this book’s sunny optimism, and I would recommend it for you. :p (Yes, I had to!)
Best Scene: the baking scene, probably. So sweet.
Strengths: fluffy, quick, upbeat, character growth
Weaknesses: too many side plots/too much going on
Content: none! Seriously. The characters don’t even curse??? When was the last time I saw that??? Thanks for that, Laura Silverman, I APPRECIATE YOU. This one’s veeeery clean.
Rating: 3.5/5 Golden Grasshoppers