Summary: Kind of Sort of Fine
Kind of Sort of Fine is written from two perspectives, that of — overachiever-who-just-had-a-nervous-breakdown — Hayley Mills and Lewis Holbrook. Lewis is a fat teen who has decided that this will be his year. He will take charge of his life and perhaps even lose weight and ask the girl he likes to go out on a date with him. Hayley’s parents and guidance counselor insist that she let go of tasking electives and switch to something more fun, and less emotionally draining, like TV Production!
Hayley is less than thrilled to be hanging with the less ambitious crew, but when she and Lewis start making mini-documentaries about their classmates, Hayley starts to question the path she originally planned for herself. And maybe Lewis will finally get out of his own way?
This was such a memorable story. At the heart of it, it’s a story about figuring out life as a teen and deciding how to start adult life. Anyone who’s at crossroads or has ever been will relate hard to Hayley and Lewis. I loved the sense of humor in this story, and Hayley and Lewis truly build a realistic, enjoyable friendship. Like all great friendships, they quickly realize that they feel most seen with each other. I also liked that their families are very much part of the story, as well as their friends and other kids in their school.
Hayley has generalized anxiety and after her public nervous breakdown, is considerably worried about the way people view her. She also has set goals for herself about her future, that may not be the best for her. TV Production class is the perfect opportunity to do work that is fun, and fairly low stakes. Lewis, on the other hand, outwardly doesn’t take himself seriously. For most of the story, he is in his own way, not trusting himself to pursue his goals or even view them as worthy.
I have zero TV production experience, but the author makes the class come alive, and I wish I could have watched Hayley and Lewis’s documentaries. I loved the cinematic descriptions and the way each documentary was a bonding opportunity for them. Finally, I was nervous about the body image representation, but I think the author does a good job. Lewis eventually makes choices, not to lose weight, but for his mental health — I felt the mindset was healthy, and the focus was not on some kind of makeover.
Overall: Kind of Sort of Fine
Kind of Sort of Fine is a heartwarming, realistic, and entertaining young adult novel about being young and figuring things out. Rife with mistakes, witty banter, and relatable, lovable protagonists, this novel will tug at your heart and make you smile. It also features highly involved families, a main character with anxiety (who’s seeing a therapist), and college admission anxiety/hustle. I would recommend this to fans of very slow-burn friends-to-lovers stories (with more friendship than romance).
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.