- Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt
So uptight that she worries about how uptight she is, Harper sees no value in making bad decisions. Penn is a known player both on and off the field, or at least he was until an injured shoulder dashed his dreams for a baseball scholarship. A bored flirtation on his part turns Harper’s head more than she’d like to admit, and before long both of them are involved in an off-again, on-again relationship neither saw coming. Penn’s horndog ways have honed his dating skills if not his ability to have a meaningful relationship, making it clear why an inexperienced girl like Harper would be swept off her feet, and her relative reserve in the face of his charm offensive likewise solves the puzzle of why he might be interested in her as a challenge. Other than that, they have little in common other than a fierce physical attraction, and all seems doomed until Penn finally learns to open up about his feelings and Harper forgives him for treating her so cavalierly as he worked out his own problems. Alternating narration between the two creates empathy with Penn, who, unbeknownst to Harper, is struggling with a dysfunctional family, and relatability for Harper, for whom the whole idea of having a boyfriend is new territory; each voice is distinctive and credible, adding dimension to Penn’s frustration and Harper’s insecurities. However, the plot and its fulfillment are absolutely formulaic, moving from one cliché of high school romance to another, making this run-of-the-genre-mill. Nonetheless, readers may enjoy watching Harper and Penn learn the rules of being a couple and getting a healthy dose of he-thought/she-thought insight along the way.