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Happily Ever Afters

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Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this charming debut romantic comedy filled with Black Girl Magic. Perfect for fans of Mary H. K. Choi and Nicola Yoon, with crossover appeal for readers of Jasmine Guillory and Talia Hibbert romances. Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflec Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this charming debut romantic comedy filled with Black Girl Magic. Perfect for fans of Mary H. K. Choi and Nicola Yoon, with crossover appeal for readers of Jasmine Guillory and Talia Hibbert romances. Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just...gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she’s ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa’s stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming. But as Tessa checks off each item off Caroline’s list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about—including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She’s well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?


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Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this charming debut romantic comedy filled with Black Girl Magic. Perfect for fans of Mary H. K. Choi and Nicola Yoon, with crossover appeal for readers of Jasmine Guillory and Talia Hibbert romances. Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflec Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this charming debut romantic comedy filled with Black Girl Magic. Perfect for fans of Mary H. K. Choi and Nicola Yoon, with crossover appeal for readers of Jasmine Guillory and Talia Hibbert romances. Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just...gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she’s ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa’s stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming. But as Tessa checks off each item off Caroline’s list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about—including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She’s well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?

30 review for Happily Ever Afters

  1. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Just finished an Unboxing and Review Video for the December, January, Holiday and New Year's boxes from Once Upon a Book Club! Just finished an Unboxing and Review Video for the December, January, Holiday and New Year's boxes from Once Upon a Book Club!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Reading this book as just like watching a teen rom-com from the 80s and I just ate that right up. Tessa loves to write romance, and when her family moves, she gets into a prestigious arts school where she is going to be a part of their writing program. Tessa has never actually shared her writing with anyone but her best friend, but she's excited to write and have this new experience. But the first day, she freezes up and finds herself not being able to write. Anything. The solution her best frie Reading this book as just like watching a teen rom-com from the 80s and I just ate that right up. Tessa loves to write romance, and when her family moves, she gets into a prestigious arts school where she is going to be a part of their writing program. Tessa has never actually shared her writing with anyone but her best friend, but she's excited to write and have this new experience. But the first day, she freezes up and finds herself not being able to write. Anything. The solution her best friend comes up with? Have a real life romance that will inspire her to write. And Nico, the gorgeous guy in her writing class, is the perfect target. The premise of this book was so fun, but this book also explores a lot of themes and shows just how messy and hard life can be for teenagers. One of my favorite parts of this book was Tessa's older brother, Miles, who has disabilities. Tessa talks a lot about growing up with him, how she deals with other people's opinions of her brother, and how other people treat him. I loved how he was in the book a lot, along with Tessa's parents, and how Miles was important when it came to her friends, especially Sam. When I say this book was messy, I mean that Tessa makes some very messy decisions that felt so real when it comes to teenagers. She makes mistakes, has a love triangle, messes up with her best friend, and lies to her parents because she just doesn't know what to do and doesn't want to disappoint them. Her decisions became frustrating, but she was making mistakes that she had to make in order to face the consequences and learn and grow from what she does. I really loved the setting and premise of this book, as well as everything Tessa went through. I was definitely rooting for a specific romance and I really loved the whole journey Tessa went on to find her words and find herself.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica | JustReadingJess

    I loved Happily Ever Afters. The story is cute and talks about important issues. Tessa grew up around very few black people. Tessa is in multiple situations with racial problems. Bryant discusses how Tessa feels and why she handles the situations the way she does. After moving, she is now around black people and feels like she fits in. Tessa’s brother Miles has disabilities and she discusses how people don’t usually treat him right. Tessa’s parents are always looking out for Miles which sometime I loved Happily Ever Afters. The story is cute and talks about important issues. Tessa grew up around very few black people. Tessa is in multiple situations with racial problems. Bryant discusses how Tessa feels and why she handles the situations the way she does. After moving, she is now around black people and feels like she fits in. Tessa’s brother Miles has disabilities and she discusses how people don’t usually treat him right. Tessa’s parents are always looking out for Miles which sometimes leads Tessa to feel like she isn’t as important. She works through this with her mom. I loved the characters in Happily Ever Afters. Tessa is deals with fear that she doesn’t belong and anxiety. She wants to do the right thing but sometimes makes bad choices. Sam is a very kind person and always treating everyone with respect. Lenore radiates self-confidence is a great friend to Tessa. Thank you Balzer + Bray, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for Happily Ever Afters. Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...

  4. 4 out of 5

    keira

    like Jane the Virgin??? black girl magic ?? wake me up when this is out

  5. 5 out of 5

    ATheReader

    I really wanted to love this almost how desperately Tessa wanted to love someone. Some parts of this book I enjoyed while others I was unimpressed or let down by. Let's get into this. Happily Ever Afters had amazing representation which includes: a bi-racial main character, anxiety rep, a disabled character, Black side characters, and a Filipino best friend. I personally can't judge if (most of) the representation is accurate, but I will say that I personally feel like one of the characters was I really wanted to love this almost how desperately Tessa wanted to love someone. Some parts of this book I enjoyed while others I was unimpressed or let down by. Let's get into this. Happily Ever Afters had amazing representation which includes: a bi-racial main character, anxiety rep, a disabled character, Black side characters, and a Filipino best friend. I personally can't judge if (most of) the representation is accurate, but I will say that I personally feel like one of the characters was added on solely to be the gay friend, so do with that what you will. I am going to touch on the anxiety representation because I myself have pretty bad anxiety that I go to therapy for. I don't think this representation was wholly accurate, and at some points, it felt like it was used as a plot point. Tessa has anxiety about social interactions, but when she is sitting with "popular" people she confidently talks to them and she sends death stares to the girlfriend of the "love interest" (which is a whole other thing I'm going to talk about). I constantly rethink the things I say, think, or even get told. So if she has social anxiety then why is she so confident in that setting? Why is she being so careless and intone with the people around her? I mean, in other settings, she gets hives from bad anxiety and those situations are kinda similar. She is also trying to steal this girl named Poppy's boyfriend and doesn't think twice about it, reasoning that it is "all part of the plan". She has the mindset that she deserves him and Poppy doesn't. She then gets mad at the fact that Poppy hates her when she is actively trying to steal her boyfriend. I actually got anxiety from some of the situations that Tessa got into, which shows how ridiculous and frankly disgusting they were. You see, Tessa made a Happily Ever After plan with her best friend, where she has to fall in love with someone (she picked Poppy's bf) by getting into certain situations (getting locked into an elevator, being in the rain together, etc.) and in turn get out of her writer's block. There is something to be said that she wasn't the person to develop the plan (her best friend did), but as someone with anxiety, the plan seems like a large lying scheme and I would be extremely on edge for the entire course of it. I would've loved to see a more main focus on her anxiety rather than her constantly obsessing over Poppy's boyfriend Nico, and how she is going to steal him. Now, let's get into the plan itself and my issues or certain likes about it. I will say that I partly set myself up for unhappiness because the concept of this plan is something that has a lot of situations I get anxious about. Lying to her parents, pushing people away from her, ignoring the blatant issues with Nico, etc. I think the plan to have her own love story to spark her writing again was really clever but she got really blind-sighted and focused on the plan which caused her to be very self-absorbed and rude to her friends. About Nico: I thought he was so clearly a playboy, user, and selfish person, that it was slightly ridiculous all of the things that Tessa bypassed for him. I think we are learning that Tessas aren't meant to have romances.. He was oblivious to JK Rowling and all of her issues, he was CHEATING ON HIS GIRLFRIEND, he had some really obnoxious friends who used offensive terms and laughed about it and he was an overall terrible person. So yeah, it annoyed me that she kept going for Happily Ever Afters with him. Spoilers: (view spoiler)[ And the fact that she went to the ball (or whatever it was called) after she knew she liked Sam, spent all of that time with him, and KNEW Nico was a bad person was an unnecessary and frankly annoying plot point. (hide spoiler)] END of spoilers A quick touch on Poppy and how Tessa was trying to steal Nico from her: Poppy is a terrible person and she was never nice to Tessa, but she did have reason to be rude to her. She could clearly tell that Tessa was trying to take her man from her (even if they were on and off again) and she had the right to be mad about it. I am annoyed that practically nobody batted an eye at this and they just let Tessa keep on with what she was doing. I did enjoy learning about the side characters and the societal issues that this book touched on. I think that Elise Bryant did a good job at developing Tessa's character and some of the teenagery thoughts that she had. I loved all of the different types of artists that were featured from the school, especially Sam and his desserts of which sounded delicious. Overall I had issue with a couple of things in this book, I liked a few and I came out of it disappointed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chidimma Desiree

    This book was definitely cute! But I have never witnessed such a self sabotaging main character like,Tessa, OMG! I found her accepting all the problematic nature of dream boy, Nico, and the villainization of Poppy, even though she was the one trying to steal her boyfriend, to be so annoying. Haven’t we moved past the days of having the main girl hate the “perfect” popular girl who has the “perfect” popular boyfriend? And I get the whole point was to see Tessa’s growth in the end, but I felt we d This book was definitely cute! But I have never witnessed such a self sabotaging main character like,Tessa, OMG! I found her accepting all the problematic nature of dream boy, Nico, and the villainization of Poppy, even though she was the one trying to steal her boyfriend, to be so annoying. Haven’t we moved past the days of having the main girl hate the “perfect” popular girl who has the “perfect” popular boyfriend? And I get the whole point was to see Tessa’s growth in the end, but I felt we didn’t even get to see that since it was so rushed. Anyways, the book was enjoyable but yeah the main character needed some work.

  7. 4 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    Tessa has never been the hero of her own story, even though she's written plenty of heroes and happily ever afters in her writing. But she's about to start a new school at a prestigious academy dedicated to cultivating fine minds and she's really nervous. Because she's never shared her writing with anyone besides her best friend before and now she's going to have to read aloud to a classroom of gifted students. And worse, her words are gone. Vanished. Blimp. Her best friend devises a scheme to ge Tessa has never been the hero of her own story, even though she's written plenty of heroes and happily ever afters in her writing. But she's about to start a new school at a prestigious academy dedicated to cultivating fine minds and she's really nervous. Because she's never shared her writing with anyone besides her best friend before and now she's going to have to read aloud to a classroom of gifted students. And worse, her words are gone. Vanished. Blimp. Her best friend devises a scheme to get Tessa her words back. A simple list, to make Tessa the heroine of her own story, just like the women in her romances. And she knows just the boy to be her hero: suave, sexy fellow writer Nico. There's just one problem. Despite his interest, Nico already has a girlfriend. I mean...it's basically Mean Girls and Pretty in Pink but with some rearrangements. In this reiteration, Kady—excuse me, Tessa—is newly arrived from Northern California with her family. She has a mom, a dad, and an older brother named Miles who is disabled. She's a regular girl, except that she's struggling to fit in and she just wants to get her words back and prove that she's good enough to be in the school. Like Kady, Tessa goes a little too far in her efforts, until the lies wrap around themselves and she loses herself in her efforts to get the boy. In this case, the boy is Nico, handsome and eerily similar to one of her main characters (a character who predates her meeting him). And Nico is really into her, despite the fact that he has a girlfriend and his friends are kinda racist. However, Tessa enlists her new friends (not Nico's friends) in getting her man to regain her words, and things go progressively downhill. Soon, she's pretending to write in class, submitting old stories to her writing teacher, failing her other classes, lying to her parents to go to parties, ditching her real friends to be with Nico's friends, and drowning in a sea of imposter syndrome. All throughout the cringe-fest that is Tessa gunning after a boy who is already in a committed relationship (admittedly, the boy is leading her on, so he does bear fault) in a way that is rewired to be progressive and fun and girl-powery, is her growing relationship with Sam, the boy next door. Sam is wears Hawaiian shirts and zip-off cargo pants (a thing I thought died in 2004), is goofy, an amazing baker, and doesn't treat Miles like he is an alien. As Tessa gains ground on Nico, she finds herself pulled towards Sam, but doesn't she really want the attractive, popular boy instead? Of course, everything implodes because of course it's going to implode. Tessa is a teenage girl, not a master spy capable of spinning lies and whatnot. And in the aftermath, Tessa finds her self-worth, and finds the strength to regain what she's lost. Her integrity. Her friends. Her words. Herself. Overall, it's sweet and adorable (despite my words of DOOM), and hits the notes of the desperation of writer's block and growing up really nicely. There are insightful critiques on the 80s teenage romances, solid representation of having a sibling with disabilities, the realities of loving ice cream even though it makes you have nasty farts, the give and take of friendship, and picking yourself back up after you've pretty much self-imploded. And also commentary on what is art, and what making art means in a school filled with preternaturally precocious and gifted children. Particularly when that art is genre writing and not literary fiction. I think there's something to be said for making art just to make you happy. Not to win awards or impress others or get the attention of your parents who can be a little clueless at times. But art for art's sake. Art for yourself. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review

  8. 5 out of 5

    Madalyn (Novel Ink)

    i have so much love for YA books where the characters act and think and f*ck up and learn and grow like real, actual teenagers, and this book is a perfect example of that. plus, a writer main character and a baker love interest, with an art school setting and a realistic and lovable cast of side characters! i enjoyed this so much.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anniek

    I had an amazing time listening to the audiobook, and I want this book to be translated immediately. It gave me all the To All the Boys vibes, with a main character who wants to be a romance author, and a boy who's an amazing baker, baking stuff that I could practically smell, it sounded so good. I loved how much this book let its main character be messy. She has flaws, she fucks up, she struggles to make the right decisions, and it was so good to see her get that space to grow and learn what she I had an amazing time listening to the audiobook, and I want this book to be translated immediately. It gave me all the To All the Boys vibes, with a main character who wants to be a romance author, and a boy who's an amazing baker, baking stuff that I could practically smell, it sounded so good. I loved how much this book let its main character be messy. She has flaws, she fucks up, she struggles to make the right decisions, and it was so good to see her get that space to grow and learn what she really wants and needs in life. Additionally, I really liked the disability rep. The main character's brother is disabled, and it was amazing to see such a respectful, loving portrayal, without shying away from how difficult it can be. It was very clear how much Tessa loves her brother and wouldn't change him for the world, and that did things to my heart.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

    June 10, 2020: The cutest cover has just been revealed and I'm so excited to meet Tessa! Mainly because books about readers is THE theme and also because 'creating your own real life love story' sounds fun and I need pointers so I don't stay single forever so yeah, EXCITED. June 10, 2020: The cutest cover has just been revealed and I'm so excited to meet Tessa! Mainly because books about readers is THE theme and also because 'creating your own real life love story' sounds fun and I need pointers so I don't stay single forever so yeah, EXCITED.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Janna

    2.5/5🌟: i was so excited about this "jane the virgin"- like romcom and there were definitely things i loved: the writing style, the positive rep of Black people and tessa's desire to become an author because i can relate a lot to that. but unfortunately, there were so many things that i didn't like: 1) for the most part, making another girl the villain of the story 2) tessa constantly neglecting all of her friends, which makes her very unlikeable 3) tessa not caring that the boy she wants to convi 2.5/5🌟: i was so excited about this "jane the virgin"- like romcom and there were definitely things i loved: the writing style, the positive rep of Black people and tessa's desire to become an author because i can relate a lot to that. but unfortunately, there were so many things that i didn't like: 1) for the most part, making another girl the villain of the story 2) tessa constantly neglecting all of her friends, which makes her very unlikeable 3) tessa not caring that the boy she wants to convince to be her boyfriend has a girlfriend 4) the stereotypical representation of one gay side character 5) when tessa and her love interest are talking about hp, she says that not everything about the author is good but her love interest doesn't acknowledge that AND she doesn't say anything about that bc she doesn't want him to be annoyed PLUS the fact that no one ever directly says the words TRANS, gave me the worst feeling. this book is full of hp references, like literally in almost every chapter, and it felt like the author wanted to do the bare minimum but was even afraid to spell out what's actually wrong with it. thanks no. we, trans people, don't need this kind of fake representation. instagram / twitter

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Happily Ever Afters is a YA contemporary romance. The narrator is 16 year old Tessa (1st person POV). She has recently moved with her family to Long Beach, California. She is a writer and is starting at a special school for the arts. She has a 19 year old brother with disabilities (this is a big part of the story). And a best friend named Caroline (who is also a big part of the story). The book has a bit of a love triangle as there are two possible love interests for Tessa. When I started this book Happily Ever Afters is a YA contemporary romance. The narrator is 16 year old Tessa (1st person POV). She has recently moved with her family to Long Beach, California. She is a writer and is starting at a special school for the arts. She has a 19 year old brother with disabilities (this is a big part of the story). And a best friend named Caroline (who is also a big part of the story). The book has a bit of a love triangle as there are two possible love interests for Tessa. When I started this book I loved the idea of Tessa being a writer. However unfortunately because of something that happens very early on in the book we barely get to see her write. There were parts of this book that were cute. And I did enjoy it. Tessa suffers from anxiety and this was a key part of the book. I really loved the idea of the school. And I really liked getting to see Tessa's experiences there. But I wanted more of her writing. And I wish that there had been another chapter or an epilogue. I wanted to know what happened after the last page. But overall it was an enjoyable YA read. Thanks to edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for allowing me to read this book

  13. 4 out of 5

    rayne ♥ [ IG: rayne.reads ]

    THE COVER, THE SYNOPSIS, WHAT MORE COULD I WANT? . instagram | blog | goodreads THE COVER, THE SYNOPSIS, WHAT MORE COULD I WANT? . instagram | blog | goodreads

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany (Read By Tiffany)

    4.5/5! This book was so freaking adorable. 😍✨ I LOVE IT HERE~~! Highly recommend the audiobook too. Full review to come. Blog (Read By Tiffany) | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube 4.5/5! This book was so freaking adorable. 😍✨ I LOVE IT HERE~~! Highly recommend the audiobook too. Full review to come. Blog (Read By Tiffany) | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sana

    As if the 'Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I've Loved Before' wasn't enough, this book is also gonna be 'full of Black girl magic' and like, I already love it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ As if the 'Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I've Loved Before' wasn't enough, this book is also gonna be 'full of Black girl magic' and like, I already love it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  16. 4 out of 5

    nick (the infinite limits of love)

    This was really cute!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    A book I didn't know I needed. I loved it!!! A book I didn't know I needed. I loved it!!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)

    There's nothing like a story that allows teens to mess up while learning about themselves in a realistic way. Tessa's not perfect and that's okay, which adds to the vibe of the story ultimately. Furthermore, I loved seeing a biracial girl (black/white) navigate her life in Long Beach, CA (a city often overlooked for L.A., Beverly Hills, and other typical cities/suburbs) with characterizations not often explored (e.g. natural hair, a brother with a disability that is approached realistically, not There's nothing like a story that allows teens to mess up while learning about themselves in a realistic way. Tessa's not perfect and that's okay, which adds to the vibe of the story ultimately. Furthermore, I loved seeing a biracial girl (black/white) navigate her life in Long Beach, CA (a city often overlooked for L.A., Beverly Hills, and other typical cities/suburbs) with characterizations not often explored (e.g. natural hair, a brother with a disability that is approached realistically, not as a teachable moment). I highly recommend this story for those looking for a tale, not about overwhelming struggle, but for normal, every day realities that teens of color experience. By the way, I read this story in two days, which says a lot for me with regard to YA. It kept my attention and few YA authors of late demonstrate such a key aspect in my book reading. 4/5

  19. 4 out of 5

    kaylina

    this book is the epitome of all the good and potential that comes with being the main character of your own story and god dammit do i feel so happy that tessa johnson got the story that she deserves. this book is tagged as a romance, you see. and a romance it is. but what does that mean? what’s the first thing that pops up in your head when you think about what a romance looks like? i asked this question to myself as i was halfway through this story, as i was aching so badly seeing tessa so desp this book is the epitome of all the good and potential that comes with being the main character of your own story and god dammit do i feel so happy that tessa johnson got the story that she deserves. this book is tagged as a romance, you see. and a romance it is. but what does that mean? what’s the first thing that pops up in your head when you think about what a romance looks like? i asked this question to myself as i was halfway through this story, as i was aching so badly seeing tessa so desperately hang onto a narrative that didn’t fit her at all but,,,she thought it was the only way to feel like she can belong. romance is all about the fireworks, the breathless sighs and whirling butterflies that fly around your belly—there’s the bare bones of it, or at least what i think (?) is what most people would assume—and it was what tessa assumed. but it was even more than that—she saw a character from a love story that she was writing herself actually brought to life, almost as if the universe dropped him straight into her lap and said “now go. take this chance and don’t let it go.” and tessa fought like hell to try and hold onto what she thought was her only shot at having an earth-shattering romance of her own. but the most heartbreaking thing is that in trying to cling to an ideal romance that felt like her only chance, she lost her own voice in this story and became a caricature that could hardly recognize herself. a good romance isn’t just about the main couple, that’s what i’ve learned, the two characters aren’t the entire focal point of the story—it’s so much more than that. it’s about how these two individual characters carry themselves, the support systems they have and the flaws they have that continue to guide the story. you aren’t just rooting for these two to get their happily ever after, you’re rooting for each of them to grow into themselves and become even more certain of where they want their paths to lead and who they want with them, besides just their love interest. all the characters in this story, supporting and minor alike, were all sort of caricatures in tessa’s love story. they filled roles that tessa herself found to distance herself away from as she thought she needed to focus on “catching the guy”. but what tessa eventually learns is that they’re their own people, too; they have their own lives and they are so steadfast in how more important they become for tessa by the time we reach the end of what we see in her story. the good and bad guys, they have their own stories leading a life of its own as well. there were so many highs and lows in this one but the most consistent thing that i find so astonishingly beautiful from this story is that all along, tessa thought she had all these steps to follow and that she was failing at all of them or that she just wasn’t doing anything right but,,,,she was wrong. she was so incredibly familiar to me and shined so brightly because i was rooting for her from the very beginning. and it wasn’t for her to “get the guy” but to find herself. that’s what i cared most about for her. so you can say that for sure, this was a romance to be remembered. tessa’s writing was always what was most important to who she was but it became obvious that there’s no way to edit or revise her own life to fit a certain image so eventually,,,,she learned she had to carry it for herself. i wanted so bad for her to be happy, to have her get her own happily ever after with herself. bless elise bryant for not giving up on tessa, and bless tessa for not giving up on herself. because this story is just the beginning and i will still be screaming my head off in support for her as she continues to experience her highs and lows. just,,,,i really liked this story. and so i’m happy. content warnings//: mild anxiety, depiction of panic attacks, mention of police brutality, allusions to jk rowling’s transphobia + discussions of harry potter, and racism

  20. 4 out of 5

    Layla (Between the Lines)

    “I've got all the lines for you. As many lines as you could possibly dream of, because you are deserving of lines from here to eternity. A 16-year-old romance novelist who doesn't feel like the protagonist of her own life? That is the only thing I needed to convince me to read this. Tessa Johnson, like other reviewers have mentioned, can be accidentally selfish and make mistakes and (unintentionally) neglect her friends, but she is real. Real life is getting swept up in your feelings and being una “I've got all the lines for you. As many lines as you could possibly dream of, because you are deserving of lines from here to eternity. A 16-year-old romance novelist who doesn't feel like the protagonist of her own life? That is the only thing I needed to convince me to read this. Tessa Johnson, like other reviewers have mentioned, can be accidentally selfish and make mistakes and (unintentionally) neglect her friends, but she is real. Real life is getting swept up in your feelings and being unable to see what other people are going through. Real life is wanting your stories to be reality, and fighting the sadness that accompanies that fallacy. Real life is not always happily-ever-afters. But sometimes it can be? I am going to keep this short and sweet, but I think that more people should read this book. I hope someone sees/reads this and goes, "Oh, that is ME". To see oneself in literature is something else. NOTE: I would also like to add a friendly *content warning* for brief discussions of racism, police brutality, anxiety/panic attacks, and She Who Shall Not Be Named (HP and all that). I do wish that the implications of JKR's words/actions were further explored whenever HP was brought up in conversation, but that is just my personal feeling about it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears

    Hmm... I'm giving this book four stars mostly for how lovingly the author writes about Long Beach, a city I've spent many wonderful days exploring and hanging out in. It's always great to read books set in Southern California that are NOT about posh enclaves like Beverly Hills or the OC (mainly Newport Beach). There are wonderful neighborhoods in LA with great people and beloved local places. Even a shout out to Long Beach Creamery and one of its signature ice cream flavors LB Crack - homemade va Hmm... I'm giving this book four stars mostly for how lovingly the author writes about Long Beach, a city I've spent many wonderful days exploring and hanging out in. It's always great to read books set in Southern California that are NOT about posh enclaves like Beverly Hills or the OC (mainly Newport Beach). There are wonderful neighborhoods in LA with great people and beloved local places. Even a shout out to Long Beach Creamery and one of its signature ice cream flavors LB Crack - homemade vanilla with fudge and toasted saltine crackers - good stuff, though whiskey vanilla is my personal favorite. As far as the story itself, well, it IS great to read a fluffy high school romantic story with a biracial Black girl who writes those kinds of stories for herself and her best friend. Speaking of which, I always add a star for best girl friends who go through life together though perhaps not at the same pace. Caroline was tried and true, even if her idea for Tessa's Happy Ending was bound for mishaps and missteps. Honestly though, I wanted to really love this book and I just DIDN'T quite get there. I like for my heroines to DO things, not just have things happen to them then they react to those things. And while I'm okay with tropes, it's often more fun when those tropes get turned upside down. Unfortunately, that didn't happen here. Tessa has transferred to an exclusive and diverse arts high school in her new home town of Long Beach (I know exactly where it is, lol) and she's not sure if her romance stories (featuring Black and girls of color) are going to be accepted, especially compared to what she thinks her fellow classmates are doing. Tessa suddenly develops writer's block, alongside imposter syndrome due to her thinking she really didn't belong at such a prestigious school. She wonders if writing romance isn't as "serious" when surrounded by her classmates who might turn their noses up at the genre, which people tend to do. I wished Tessa had stood her ground a little about her work throughout the story, then by the end turned her perceived detractors into fans. I think if she'd been driven by a need to prove that romance is just as valid as "the classics" might have helped her writer's block and advanced the trying to get the hot guy to fall for her. Without question I preferred Sam to Nico and wished endless pages hadn't been wasted on Tessa falling for the shiny but shallow object. Despite Nico having his own sympathetic backstory which should have made him less of a jerk, but ended up shelved in order to get to the HEA and the RIGHT guy after all. Upon further retrospection, Happily Ever Afters is that book for Black girls who don't see themselves in YA romance. Both Tessa and Caroline read popular books in that genre with most that are bereft of girls of color. On that score, this book works as a love letter of sorts. I just wanted for it to come together like one of Sam's yummy recipes. I felt it tried to take on too many themes at once and tried to resolve them too quickly.

  22. 5 out of 5

    ♡ jules ♡

    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.

  23. 4 out of 5

    ysa

    lesson learned: don't trust a man that likes J.K Rowling. lesson learned: don't trust a man that likes J.K Rowling.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maddie

    Actual Rating: 3.5⭐️ This book made me exceptionally hungry for every kind of dessert ever and I'm not mad about it. Actual Rating: 3.5⭐️ This book made me exceptionally hungry for every kind of dessert ever and I'm not mad about it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    “You need to learn the subtle art of not giving a f*ck.” Happily Ever Afters was not a book for me. I can see why it’s compared to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. These books do have many similarities – that’s probably the reason why I didn't like it and stopped caring for the last third of the story. It started off pretty good. The first few chapters addressed many important topics making the reader more aware of under-representation of black people in the main cast of books, movies, and t “You need to learn the subtle art of not giving a f*ck.” Happily Ever Afters was not a book for me. I can see why it’s compared to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. These books do have many similarities – that’s probably the reason why I didn't like it and stopped caring for the last third of the story. It started off pretty good. The first few chapters addressed many important topics making the reader more aware of under-representation of black people in the main cast of books, movies, and tv shows and how that effects especially young people of colour. Additionally, it thematized disabilities and how not involved people with their prejudices and reactions are the real problem for the family. I liked how the plot helped the reader become aware of those issues and hopefully made many readers think about it outside of the book. However, once the main plot started, everything went downhill for me. The very likable and relatable protagonist, Tessa, just stopped being herself somewhere on the way to her first day at her new school. In her desperate need to fit in, I felt like the plot was just one “peer-pressured” act after the other – but there wasn’t even any pressure other then Tessa’s own expectations of what she thought others want her to do, her own thoughts of how the others might think her actions make her look stupid, and her obsession with getting the ONE boy. So, in my eyes Tessa developed from a great character into a shallow false persona obsessed with her fake image. The light of my life was Sam. I loved how he didn’t give a damn about what others thought of him, how he dressed, or what he did. He was always himself, did what he loved, tried to give good advice, and supported Tessa throughout the story. He is NOT a “pity suggestion” and was what kept me going after chapter ten. I guess I’m just over such tropes. I’m over too much teen angst and unhealthy amounts of self-doubt, overthinking literally EVERY breath one takes in public stressing over how others perceive you, while being overly shallow and so fixated on the looks of others. I’m over girls blindly chasing after boys no matter what they do or say just because they are “everyone’s” dream boy and overlooking both the boy’s problematic behaviour and the girl’s unfounded obsession. I’m over people not realizing a friend’s life has to go on, too, even if you aren’t there every minute anymore and getting jealous over that fact, especially when your fixation keeps you from trying to live your own life. And I’m definitely over the enormous amounts of Harry Potter references in this whole story (especially when the MC addressed the latest developments making it clear that JKR f*cked up before the book was published and the author was aware of the pain those references can cause). I had hoped it wouldn’t be this cliché plot with just another insecure girl, losing herself in her own prejudices and her shallow crush and it had so much potential, because Tessa definitely had some strong, great opinions and positions. Sadly, she was too easily motivated to ignore those views in certain company instead of speaking her mind and looking badass, was too afraid of rejection and judgment and preferred lying over getting help or being upfront with everything. Nevertheless, I’m glad Tessa’s fears that come with being black in a largely white society were depicted in such powerful scenes, that her anger and frustration about how others treated her in certain situations was described the way it was. Black girls deserve to see themselves in romance books, but no girl should have to read about someone giving up their own morals and personality just to try and make a boy like you, because that makes it seem like you can’t be loved or deserve love the way you are – because you DO deserve love and romantic relationships DON’T define a person’s value. In the end that’s obviously just my opinion and I don’t want to make anybody feel offended because of my critique or bad about disagreeing with me.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Fernanda Granzotto

    2.5 stars Audiobook! I really wanted to like this book, but in the end it just pissed me off and I just finished it because I was listening to the audiobook. I found the tone of this book very youthful. Is a very teenage book, which could very well be a movie because it would cut the boring parts and it would be much faster. What really pissed me off was Tessa, I understand that she suffers from anxiety and I was able to identify with her a lot but the way she thought some things went much further an 2.5 stars Audiobook! I really wanted to like this book, but in the end it just pissed me off and I just finished it because I was listening to the audiobook. I found the tone of this book very youthful. Is a very teenage book, which could very well be a movie because it would cut the boring parts and it would be much faster. What really pissed me off was Tessa, I understand that she suffers from anxiety and I was able to identify with her a lot but the way she thought some things went much further and it was very childish that it seemed she was 14 years old, I roll my eyes over most of the book. The plot itself was a mess too, with our protagonist making all the wrong decisions and only in the last two chapters solving everything that irritated me even more and the end was open wich I don't like very much. In the end I think I realized that even though this book brings very important discussions on topics such as racism, prejudice, deficiencies, among others, the fact that the plot and the protagonist irritated me so much, I end up not liking the book. It's not a bad book, I just think it's more on the lower end of Young Adult in my opinion.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Danika at The Lesbrary

    I accidentally stayed up all night reading this. This follows and celebrates a lot of romance novel tropes, and as Tessa points out, there aren’t a lot of cute romances with a Black girl main character. It’s also just as much about her family, her friendship with Caroline, and her writing, though. I haven’t read a lot of romance novels, which I think added to this being an emotional rollercoaster of a read for me. They really break down the heroine in that third act, hey? I wasn’t sure how she co I accidentally stayed up all night reading this. This follows and celebrates a lot of romance novel tropes, and as Tessa points out, there aren’t a lot of cute romances with a Black girl main character. It’s also just as much about her family, her friendship with Caroline, and her writing, though. I haven’t read a lot of romance novels, which I think added to this being an emotional rollercoaster of a read for me. They really break down the heroine in that third act, hey? I wasn’t sure how she could come back: everything seemed to be spiraling out of control. This has some really cute moments--I mean, the kind boy next door baker? Can’t go wrong there. But it also talks about microaggressions and the realities of being Black--and specifically, mixed race: Tessa’s mom is white and her dad is Black. If you want a sweet romance, but with some gut punches and social commentary, pick this one up. (I talk about this more on Jan 5th's episode of All the Books.)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anya

    Thank you to Balzar + Bray/Harper Collins (via NetGalley) for the ARC! Just FYI: There are a lot of Harry Potter references in this book 3.5 stars Sigh. I had high hopes for this book, but it let me down a little. I'm having a hard time articulating what exactly I didn't like about it, but it just left me feeling slightly disappointed overall. (view spoiler)[One thing that bugged me is that I feel like everything was wrapped up too quickly. Tessa spent the whole book doubting herself, trash talking Thank you to Balzar + Bray/Harper Collins (via NetGalley) for the ARC! Just FYI: There are a lot of Harry Potter references in this book 3.5 stars Sigh. I had high hopes for this book, but it let me down a little. I'm having a hard time articulating what exactly I didn't like about it, but it just left me feeling slightly disappointed overall. (view spoiler)[One thing that bugged me is that I feel like everything was wrapped up too quickly. Tessa spent the whole book doubting herself, trash talking herself (that in and of itself bothered me--she was SO negative all the time!) and then within two chapters entirely changed her outlook on herself. I was also disappointed by the ending. I don't mind an open-ended book, but I feel like this was TOO open-ended. I wanted a little more resolution at the end of Tessa and Sam's story. (hide spoiler)] I just wanted more from it, overall. I wanted Tessa to be more open about her issues with her parents. I wanted more from Tessa and Sam's relationship. I wanted more examination about why Tessa had writer's block (the phrase itself never came up in the whole book, which I thought was weird). I wanted more development of her writing teacher instead of a one-off halfhearted offer to help her. I was just left unfulfilled by the end of this book. I know many people have enjoyed this book, and I don't want to deter people from reading it because of my review, but I was left feeling disappointed overall. I do wish the author success with her debut, and I hope that it finds its intended audience. I will most likely be buying this for my school library, though, because I definitely see it as something that my students will enjoy!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ekene

    What can I say? Give me a black girl who loves writing, loves writing romance, and is a hot mess outside her laptop. Yes, this book had its moments of cheesiness. There were times I got annoyed with the main character since the right love interest was there, the signs all there. But it is was cute

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sumayo

    This book was adorable and frustrating. I loved Sam and Miles’s characters. They were the only two characters I loved from beginning yo end. I do wish, though, that Tessa’s character development didn’t feel so rushed in the end.

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