Sonny and Amy are best friends. Because of some family drama, Sonny’s been secretly living at Amy’s house. Ryder, the new kid at Hamilton High, has a huge and obvious thing for Amy, but he represents everything she hates, including a snobby outlook. When Ryder emails Amy and asks her out, Sonny thinks it’s a great opportunity to prank him. But then she ends up talking to him online all night, and realizes that he’s kind of awesome. The only problem is, he thinks he was talking to Amy. Unable to come clean but also unable to stop chatting with him, Sonny gets further and further from the truth while her feelings for Ryder intensify.
Hailed as a companion novel to The DUFF, this novel by Kody Keplinger is set in the same world as her other contemporary offerings and even features appearances by the main characters of The DUFF. Keplinger has an ear for dialogue and offers a plot heavy on the chemistry and crazy with the mistaken identities. The result is a mostly pleasant romp through some teen mistakes, but it doesn’t have as much of the charm that some of her previous novels possess.
Even so, Keplinger crafts teen characters that are believable and authentic. Her ability to write believable teen dialogue helps immensely as well. She sells the somewhat silly plot by creating characters who make realistic mistakes and a plot that moves at a whip-fast pace. There are genuinely funny moments here, as well as heartfelt ones, and there’s immense teen appeal.
Also notable is the focus on the female friendship between Sonny and Amy. This relationship seems to control much of the book’s narrative, and it’s refreshing to see two girls who genuinely love each other and love spending time together. Sonny’s budding romance with Ryder takes a backseat to the development of this friendship, and readers looking for complicated female friendships should be satisfied by the portrayal here.
On the whole, this will work for fans of Keplinger’s work. There’s a lot here to like, and readers who were clamoring for more Bianca and Wesley will get at least a little fix, as the two make several appearances throughout the book. This is a strong addition to collections that already house Keplinger’s other works.
Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger. Scholastic: 2015. Library copy.