Socially awkward Benedict, a high school junior, wants to find a girlfriend. Popular and edgy classmate Penelope already has Paul, her current boyfriend and “future husband.” When Paul and Penelope’s other “friends” assault Benedict in the hallway, she comes to his aid, and they both end up in the principal’s office. When Penelope gets in trouble with her parents, Paul ditches her and bails on her annual family winter vacation to the isolated Wild Wolf Lake Lodge. Meanwhile, Benedict learns that, this year his family has swapped their traditional trip to Hawaii for a trip to (wait for it…) Wild Wolf Lake. As their paths cross, Penelope finds herself increasingly drawn to Benedict’s absolute honesty, and he surprises himself by starting to fall for this incredibly illogical match. In their brief time together they each change for the better, until they have to return home to Riverside and their past patterns threaten to pull them apart.
This book reminded me a bit of a young adult version of “The Rosie Project.” I appreciated Benedict and Penelope’s honesty and the access to their unvarnished inner thoughts and feelings. In many ways this story resembles “Romeo and Juliet,” with two characters from different social groups sharing a brief and intense romance before the world intervenes. While arguably less handsome and intelligent than Benedict, I could relate to his awkward longing and honest approach to relationships. Disappointing that the author normalized Benedict’s viewing of Internet pornography as research. This book featured the most creative and interesting “Acknowledgments” I have ever read. Recommended for mature young adult fans of misfit romance.