Author: Francina Simone
Publisher: Inkyard Press
First Published: September 22, 2020
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy, Young Adult
Format: ARC, eBook
Olivia “Liv” James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does…
After Liv shows up to a Halloween party in khaki shorts—why, God, why?—she decides to set aside her wack AF ways. She makes a list—a F*ck-It list.
1. Be bold—do the thing that scares me.
2. Learn to take a compliment.
3. Stand out instead of back.
She kicks it off by trying out for the school musical, saying yes to a date and making new friends. Life is great when you stop punking yourself! However, with change comes a lot of missteps, and being bold means following her heart. So what happens when Liv’s heart is interested in three different guys—and two of them are her best friends? What is she supposed to do when she gets dumped by a guy she’s not even dating? How does one Smash It! after the humiliation of being friend-zoned?
In Liv’s own words, “F*ck it. What’s the worst that can happen?”
A lot, apparently.
Drama nerds rejoice for the year of fuck it! Smash It! is all about a shy girl that decides to take a page out of Shonda Rimes “year of yes” to start overcoming her shyness. Liv feels that she has always been on the sidelines next to her two rockstar friends, Eli and Dré. She is hopelessly in love with Eli and fears taking the leap, feeling that she’s the uncool girl that nobody notices.
But owning oneself is not as easy as it sounds, and everything becomes more complicated when other people and feelings are involved. I loved the main characters and found each one to be well-developed with distinctive personalities and character flaws. Eli, Dré, and Kai are all swoon-worthy love interests and I felt conflicted about who to root for, they were all great. The complex love triangles made sense and my heart ached for each one. I also adored Lennox and Jackie and was so happy that there were good female friendships where girls actually support each other.
“Good judgment comes from a string of fuckups.”
The book has a lot to say about some big themes like body and sex-positivity, single parenthood, race, and personal identity. Liv is often extremely selfish, centering every event on herself and taking things so personally. She is wrapped up in what other people think of her and she has a tendency to assume the worst. Though I didn’t like how Liv and other characters dragged on adults for having issues or not “getting it” I had to chuckle at how true this attitude was for teenagers. Liv is flawed but she is also very true to life as the late teen years are filled with angst and a search for self. I took some issue that Liv doesn’t start putting herself together until her almost non-existent sister shows up and tells her what to do.
As an Othello re-telling, I could see the links with each of the major events and thought this was a fun tie to the play. However, there is a lot of criticism about Shakespeare that I thought was an odd choice. Liv keeps comparing her life to Othello and then goes on to say that “some old white dude isn’t writing the script of my life” yet everything kept coming back to the play, but maybe it’s just me. Despite this, Smash It! was a laugh out loud funny in your face rom-com that I enjoyed.
Warnings: sex, discussions of sex