It is a universally acknowledged truth that 2020 sucks. In fact, that truth is practically the understatement of the century: so in between quarantine, prepping for the upcoming election (get those votes in, quick as you like!), and dealing with the bizarre episode of The Twilight Zone this year has become, we’ve all been looking for spots of escapism when we can.
It hasn’t been easy, not with so many once-hopeful franchises changed their tunes to grimdark fantasies, so people have turned from films and television shows to books and cartoons to enjoy themselves. Both mediums have been on fire this year, with plenty of fresh blood offering optimistic, real stories.
One great example of this would be the romantic-comedy released in January, Tweet Cute. Written by Emma Lord, the book feels like it’s ripped right out of the fanfic genre, in that it is a sincere, character-driven story filled with all the right tropes and just enough oblivious mutual pining and miscommunication that you’ll be crying over your grilled cheese. Here are five reasons why this beautifully fluffy book needs to be on your TBR immediately.
Rivals To Best Friends To Lovers Excellence
First of all, you’ve got an impeccable You’ve Got Mail-esque plot happening between Pepper and Jack: Jack is an amateur but talented coder and created a private app for his schoolmates (which he hosts anonymously) to use to get to know each other. Unknowingly, he and Pepper start talking to each other and become fast online friends — the catch? Neither of them knows who the other is because every profile is anonymous.
The bigger catch? They’re also duking it out on the Twitter accounts for their parents’ businesses, after Pepper’s family’s restaurant blatantly steals a recipe from Jack’s family’s mom and pop shop. The two can’t stand each other IRL, but circumstances lead to them spending more time together…
Realistic Portrayal of Teenagers
Media has been flooded with a certain kind of depiction of teenagers, giving way to a slew of teen detectives or teen superheroes or…everything Riverdale cooks up. That characterization is certainly a fun one, giving us plenty of favorite characters or guilty pleasure TV shows over the years, but it also means that sometimes more grounded approaches to contemporary teenage life is overlooked.
Tweet Cute doesn’t do that. Pepper is a perfectionist who has acclimated to the cut-throat, ambitious private school she goes — by necessity. Pepper believes she’s all alone due to the competitive nature of the school, and that every other student is an enemy who might use her to get ahead. Meanwhile, Jack has to grapple with being often overlooked and ignored for his more popular twin brother and handling the pressure from his father to take over the family business – whereas Jack wants to do more with his life.
Not to mention, the book doesn’t gloss over an unfortunate all-too-real problem most Gen-Z teenagers have to face: navigating tricky family relationships. Pepper walks a fine line with her mother and sister, while Jack deals with his parents and brother. By far, these kids do not have it easy, which makes the happily ever after that much sweeter.
Fandom & Internet References
By Jove does this book have its fandom references — right down to the author’s blurb, where Emma Lord proudly declares herself a Hufflepuff sun sign and a Gryffindor rising. Tweet Cute easily integrates internet culture into the heart of the story (obviously) but it also makes a point to organically reference it throughout in a way that makes it feel natural.
There’s so much heart in this book and in the references in it. Tumblr gets a nod, shipping becomes a semi-important plot point in the book, and there are more fandom references than I can remember (including Spider-Man). Tweet Cute is a love letter not just to Pepper and Jack, but to the fans who read it and engage with internet and fandom life daily.
Cooking and baking has been everyone’s saving grace this year; it’s one of the most romanticized mundane things we have to do, and it is an honorable love language. A few books have incorporated cooking or baking into the plot, like Jenny Han’s To All The Boys trilogy, which also goes out of its way to include recipes at the end of each novel (who else wants to learn to bake like Lara Jean with me?)
Tweet Cute is quite literally centered around food thanks to the premise of the novel, and it’s definitely the love language of the story. Pepper and Jack grow closer over the course of the book thanks to Pepper’s baked desserts, and both of their families bond by way of food.
Now before I start, I would like to preface this with – if anything ever happened to Jack, I would actually cry, I love that boy a whole lot -but Pepper is my girl. I’m not sure what it was about Pepper that stuck with me so much, but she’s wound up becoming one of my favorite characters.
She’s devastatingly put-together, often considered robotic by her classmates, and is one of the top students in her class. But underneath that perfect façade, Pepper puts up is a very insecure teenager, being forced to carry around too many responsibilities — Pepper’s story is a beautiful transitional one as she learns to let go and enjoy, to be herself, to enjoy cultivating friendships. She learns to stand up for herself and even musters up the courage to explore New York City a little bit.