The Showcase Magazine - Articles

By Samantha Picaro

Happily, Ever Afters

by Elise Bryant

Tessa is a teen aspiring writer who begins her first year at a conservatory for kids gifted in the arts. When she has writer’s block, she tries to find inspiration by creating her own real-life love story. She does this by trying to develop a romance with a classmate named Nico. But she also develops feelings for another boy, Sam, who lives across the street from her.

This is such a heartwarming story with real stress that teens and even adults face. Writer’s block is just one example of that stress. The author does a good job showing the other types of stress that Tessa faces as the new girl. Tessa’s love triangle with Nico and Sam teaches her and the reader that sometimes what you look for in a partner can change.

Anyone who is a writer can relate to Tessa as she tries to conquer writer’s block. One does not even have to be a writer to understand Tessa’s fear of critique, as students must share their work at the conservatory. Tessa faces extra pressure to author a great story as a Black aspiring writer who wishes to help readers see themselves represented in stories.

A setting other than the average high school was fun to read about. A reader will have fun as they see Tessa navigate an educational setting where creativity is the focus. It was fun to see Tessa meet classmates and new friends with the same goals of honing their craft but still having teen experiences like relationships.

My (Not So) Perfect Life

by Sophie Kinsella

Katie Brenner envies other people and the lives they have, especially her boss Demeter, so she takes refuge in faking happiness online. When Demeter fires Katie, Katie goes to her family’s farm to help them set up a vacation business but then Demeter turns up as a guest. Katie must figure out her own meaning of a happy, successful life.

I think anyone can relate to Katie’s envy of people who seemingly have perfect lives. Faking happiness and positivity online and in person is, unfortunately, all too common, not just in the book’s setting of England but almost everywhere, so I appreciated the book’s exploration of this topic. Katie learns to be true to herself and her roots as she helps her parents set up the glamping business, is reminded of where she came from and learns that Demeter’s life is not perfect.

Sophie Kinsella is an expert on humor and female relationships, the central one in this novel being the one between Demeter and Katie, who eventually come to understand one another. It was refreshing to see the bad boss trope turned on its head as Demeter was humanized. Female solidarity is expressed when Katie chooses to help Demeter with a problem. This book is perfect for fans of humor, female friendships, and glamping.