Parker, Danielle. You Bet Your Heart. New York: Joy Revolution, 2023.
ISBN-13: 978-0593565278 | $18.99 USD | 320 pages | YA Contemporary Romance
A riveting, swoon-worthy teen romance centered on two high achievers fighting for the title of high school valedictorian and falling in love along the way, from debut author Danielle Parker.
Sasha Johnson-Sun might not know everything—like how to fully heal after her dad’s passing or how many more Saturdays her mom can spend cleaning houses. But the one thing Sasha is certain of? She will graduate this year as Skyline High’s class valedictorian.
At least, she was sure before the principal calls Sasha and her cute, effortlessly gifted ex–best friend, Ezra Davis-Goldberg, into his office to deliver earth-shattering news: they’re tied for valedictorian and the scholarship attached…
This outcome can’t be left to chance. So, Sasha and Ezra agree on a best-of-three, winner-take-all academic bet. As they go head-to-head, they are forced not only to reexamine why they drifted apart but also to figure out who they’ve become since. With her future hanging in the balance, Sasha must choose: honor her family’s sacrifices by winning (at all costs) or give her heart a shot at finding happiness?
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
The Joy Revolution imprint once again delivers another winner, this time with a YA contemporary from debut author, Danielle Parker. Parker is a delightful new voice in YA romance, putting a fun spin on familiar tropes, like academic rivals-to-lovers and friends-to-rivals-to-lovers.
Sasha and Ezra are such wonderful characters, and I love the dynamic between them. Both are ambitious, and want to be the top of their class, but the tension between them because of their shared history adds an extra layer to the story that I liked. There was a great balance between the ruthlessness of the competition between them and making a believable transition to a stable relationship. Both are flawed, and make mistakes, but are endearing in spite of their flaws.
I also loved the cultural nuances to both characters, influenced by their backgrounds and the social issues that impact them. Both are Black, and the narrative reckons with the impact of gentrification. Both also are from multicultural backgrounds, with Sasha also being part Korean, and Ezra being Jewish.
This is a great book, and I’m looking forward to more from Danielle Parker in the future. If you’re looking for a multicultural Black romance, I recommend checking this one out!
Danielle Parker has over ten years of experience as a high school English teacher, during which her greatest pleasure was helping reluctant readers find a novel they absolutely loved. Danielle now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. You Bet Your Heart is her debut novel. When she’s not writing, Danielle can be found looking for a pool to splash in, thinking about dessert, or taking a quick nap.
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