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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of This Time It's Real by Ann Liang

I was hooked by Liang's fake-dating, famous-everyday relationship duo setup, fantastically funny dialogue, and wonderfully imperfect characters with their hard-fought vulnerability and heartbreaking missteps. I devoured this in a rainy afternoon.

In Ann Liang's young adult rom-com This Time It's Real, when seventeen-year-old Eliza's class essay about young love goes viral, it leads to the offer of a competitive internship and soaring popularity at her new school. She should be on cloud nine.

The only problem is, she made it all up. She's never been in love. She's moved so many times in her life, by now she realizes no one's going to bother understanding her or listening to her story. She's not even sure she's cut out for real-life love. Anyway, so she made up a sweeping romantic story, so what?

But the whirlwind around her pretend relationship is taking on a life of its own.

Eliza makes a desperate deal with a famous actor in her class: if he plays the role of her fake boyfriend at school, she'll help him write his college applications. He's already seen how convincing her writing can be, after all--she's got everyone fooled.

When the line between acting and reality becomes blurred, will Eliza's grand plans end up in her own heartbreak?

I love a fake-dating premise and a famous-everyday dating premise, and here they are combined. Ding ding ding!

In This Time It's Real, Ann Liang's funny dialogue, characters' various interpersonal challenges and victories, and messy family dynamics had me swooning. Eliza and Caz cope with lying and coming clean, drifting apart from treasured friends and trying to find their way back together, and allowing another person to know your true, imperfect self and establishing hard-fought vulnerability.

Yes to all of this!

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Ann Liang is also the author of If You Could Also See the Sun.

Other fake-dating rom-coms include The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren and a Bossy favorite, The Bodyguard by Katherine Center.

I loved these two books with the premise in which a famous person dates a not-famous person: Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan and Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey.

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