10:00 am EST, January 22, 2020

‘Tweet Cute’ book review: Team #PepperJack for life

Looking for your new favorite contemporary YA romance novel? Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute is an adorable debut novel that’ll leave you hungry for more (in more ways than one).

From the moment I encountered this title, I knew I wanted to read it. After all, a book that not only makes a pun off of “Meet Cute” but also perfectly sets up the main story of the novel? Oh, and ooey-gooey grilled cheese sandwiches are at the center of it all? It was love at first sight.

Tweet Cute is a sweet novel about family, dreams, and the struggle of dealing with others’ expectations for you. It’s Gossip Girl meets Mean Girls mixed with To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before with a touch of You’ve Got Mail. It’s basically impossible not to like.

If life at an Upper East Side private school wasn’t challenging or stressful enough (what with course loads, the pressure of immaculate report cards, and extra-curriculars), both Pepper and Jack have the weight of their family businesses on their shoulders. Though they’re still in high school, they’re very much the social face of their respective businesses. While Jack’s parents aren’t necessarily pleased about that fact, Pepper’s mom overwhelms her with tasks that the corporation’s social media manager should be doing but relies on Pepper for.

When the two businesses engage in a Twitter war over an eerily similar grilled cheese sandwich recipe, puns, memes, emojis, and a whole lot of sass start flying to the point where, after a while, Pepper and Jack don’t mind these extra responsibilities. Or their newfound connection.

But, as situations like these are wont to do, things get complicated. And messy. Lack of communication, context, and, in some cases, even mistaken identity and culpability threaten not only Pepper and Jack’s new friendship, but also their respective family businesses. When they’re no longer able to hide behind their phones and are forced to face the consequences of their Twitter war head-on, things get real, real fast.

As a social media and marketing professional, I’m always wary of picking up books where the main character is a self-proclaimed social media manager. Especially when those books have high school or even college settings. Social media marketing is a serious profession that takes more training than you’d think. It’s not just memes and sassy comebacks, emojis and hashtags. Social media marketing, when done well, involves a lot of planning, discussions, and consideration of brand voice as well as reputation. Though it may look like it (because social media managers make it look easy), it’s not child’s play.

So I came into this novel wary of the fact that two seniors in high school were in charge of businesses’ Twitter feeds. Pepper moreso because her family’s business is a large nationwide chain and not a single-location deli like Jack’s. However, I’m happy to say that the majority of my hesitations on this front are addressed, and properly.

So much of this novel explores family dynamics, expectations, and responsibilities. It’s clear that the teens aren’t cheeky savants who moonlight as social media professionals. They’re high school seniors who view their responsibilities in their respective family businesses as necessary in order to not disappoint their parents.

That’s not to say that their social media skills aren’t good. In the same vein as Wendy’s and MoonPie, their brand voices are super sassy and biting. While that strategy makes it easier for any brand to have viral success online, Jack and Pepper are well-suited to devise tweets and campaigns because that kind of voice (complete with appropriate pop culture references) comes easier to teens. They’re just in that space more than adults. The two teens are incredibly clever and aware of the larger world, which makes all of their moves and tweets highly believable and true to character.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

But let’s get out of the weeds of social media management and into what you’re most likely curious about: #TeamPepperJack aka The romance of it all!

Pepper and Jack are definitely a couple to get behind and root for. They not only perfectly balance each other in terms of personality and personal strengths, but they also bring out the best qualities in one another. Qualities that they didn’t even know they still had or ever possessed. Jack’s easygoing personality helps Pepper rediscover the value in relaxing and having fun, while Pepper’s way of recognizing others’ strengths and individuality helps Jack feel confident in his own skin so that he can start to emerge from his twin’s shadow.

I also enjoy the way they’re very evenly matched. Pepper may be poised as smarter or more “elite,” and Jack is more of a class clown at the outset of the novel (just by the way the characters refer to one another), but those judgments are based solely on the characters’ facades. The faces they project into the world so that others don’t see their weaknesses or vulnerabilities.

In actuality, the two are very similar in intelligence as well as their penchants for fun and for food. When they interact with each other on their true levels, sparks really fly. A lot of their interactions with each other happen via the Twitter, messages, or quick glances, but that only ramps up the chemistry between them when there are in-person encounters and scenes.

Though Pepper and Jack are the main characters of this novel, they’re not even close to being the true stars. That honor goes to all of the delicious food discussed, cooked, and baked in this novel. From incredible dessert mash-ups (something called “Monster Cake” specifically) to descriptions of amazing grilled cheese sandwiches that will make your mouth water for hours on end, it’s impossible to read Tweet Cute suffering from some serious cravings. (Tweet Cute may or may not have even inspired me to make my first-EVER grilled cheese on the stove, complete with some extra ingredients, because I was craving one so badly. Just saying.)

Word to the wise, and I cannot stress this enough, do *NOT* read this book on an empty stomach or in the vicinity of a kitchen if you’re not prepared to get baking and cooking.

Tweet Cute is nothing short of lovely. This debut captures a lot of the insecurities that come with being a senior in high school and on the cusp of being forced to figure out a general direction for the rest of your life. The characters are ones that make you feel like you’ve known them for ages and the settings feel well lived-in. If I could, I would visit this book’s version of New York City (specifically Jack’s family’s deli) but for now, I’ll just revel in this fun and engaging story.

#TeamPepperJackForLife

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord is available now. Be sure to order your copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, or your local independent bookstore. Also, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads “to read” shelf!

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