Here’s to books that make us smile, that open their little book cover arms to every living soul, and embrace us with joy.
Blurb: In Serena Kaylor’s sparkling debut, a homeschooled math genius finds herself out of her element at a theater summer camp and learns that life―and love―can’t be lived by the (text)book.
Growing up homeschooled in Berkeley, California, Beatrice Quinn has always dreamed of discovering new mathematical challenges at Oxford University. She always thought the hardest part would be getting in, not convincing her parents to let her go. But while math has always made sense to Beatrice, making friends is a problem she hasn’t been able to solve. Before her parents will send her halfway across the world, she has to prove she won’t spend the next four years hiding in the library. The compromise: the Connecticut Shakespearean Summer Academy and a detailed list of teenage milestones to check off. If Beatrice wants to live out her Oxford dream, she has to survive six weeks in the role of “normal teenager” first.
Unfortunately, hearts and hormones don’t follow any equations. When she’s adopted by a group of eclectic theater kids, and immediately makes an enemy of the popular―and annoyingly gorgeous―British son of the camp’s founders, Beatrice quickly learns that relationships are trickier than calculus. With her future on the line, this girl genius stumbles through illicit parties, double dog dares, and more than her fair share of Shakespeare. But before the final curtain falls, will Beatrice realize there’s more to life than what she can find in the pages of a book?
A young (16-year old) genius with designs on Oxford must navigate a Shakespeare Theater camp entirely out of her comfort zone in order to prove to her protective parents that she’s capable of attending university outside of the country in Serena Kaylor wonderful debut novel, Long Story Short.
Home-schooled Beatrice, who is probably on the spectrum, has a photographic memory, unemotionally deals with life, and wants to attend Oxford more than anything else in her life. Behind her parents backs she applies, completes the interview, and receives an acceptance and then must face her parents who don’t believe she’s ready to attend an out-of-state college much less an out-of-country college. However, they reach an agreement. If she can attend a Shakespeare Theater camp during the summer and complete a number of socially-oriented tasks then they’ll let her go.
At camp, Beatrice finds her first ever friend in a Mia, a bi-sexual Black girl whose dream is to be an actress despite her doctor parents who think she should pursue something a little more rational and secure. Nolan, the gay twin brother of her other roommate, ice queen Shelby, also becomes a good friend. Between Mia and Nolan, they help Beatrice navigate a new world that includes Nik, the British son of the camp’s owners, new clothes, and slowly new confidence.
What a sweet, fun romance! While Beatrice out of her comfort zone can be prickly, she’s completely understandable and adorable. I ached for her often when she’s faced with so many elements completely out of her comfort zone and yet fighting an inside war with herself that suggests that she needs to face these elements head-on.
Filled with teenage angst, jealousy and competition but also friendship, love, and loyalty, Long Story Short is a feel-good novel that made me smile almost constantly. I only wish I knew as many Shakespeare quotes and Bea and Nik did!
While there were some bits that might have been predictable, they were predictable in a good way and added to my overall enjoyment of the book. I look forward to whatever Serena Kaylor offers in the future.
I received and ARC in exchange for an honest review.