Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: August 28th, 2014
Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop-culture references, order the same Chinese food and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow, even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative-writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at the local Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Now they just need to realize that they're meant for each other, and start falling in love...
A Little Something Different is the love story of Gabe and Lea, but told by the people around them. Gabe and Lea never ever narrate their story and instead fourteen other people take the reins, including professors, friends, baristas, takeaway delivery men and waitresses. It's a new (and very welcome) way of showing their relationship develop, and I really loved the way it was done. There are a couple of POVs that absolutely should not work (a squirrel and a bench), but they do, and they all add to Lea and Gabe's romantic journey.
This book is fast-paced and addictive, and within a few pages I was even met with a reference to my one true love, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Any book that slips my favourite slayer in immediately catches my attention, and from that moment on I knew we were going to get along. I love how sweet and unassuming Lea and Gabe are, both plagued by shyness and social awkwardness that comes with being at high school or, in this case, college. I did get frustrated with Gabe on more than one occasion, but only because I was desperate for him to get his act together and stop being so clueless. I liked both of them, though, and I saw a little bit of myself in each of them. I can be awkward, too!
The surrounding characters and narrators all added their own spark to the story, seeing things from their perspectives and having a different take on the relationship unfolding before them. At first I wasn't keen on how much they were meddling in other people's lives, but by the end I wanted them all to knock Lea's and Gabe's heads together. It's because of the caring, compassionate people around them that these two finally start moving forward, and it's a clever, unique way of telling a story.
A Little Something Different is perfect for YA readers who like cute, romantic contemporaries like those written by Stephanie Perkins, Jennifer E. Smith and Kasie West. I really enjoyed it - I want to hug it! - and am looking forward to reading more from Sandy Hall - I hope her next book will be in a similar vein and will have the same calibre of pop culture references for me to appreciate!