There is something to be said about a book that is ultra contemporary: it is fun! I picked up Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick on a recommendation and rave from dear Alea and am so glad I did.
Tweet Heart follows four friends, Claire, Lottie, Will, and Bennett through their series of Tweets on Twitter, as well as a few blog posts and emails. There is nothing more to it in terms of story plotting, as it all unfolds through social media. Claire is crushing hard on a guy named JD while Will is seriously crushing on Claire but can’t get her attention. Enter his plan to pretend to be JD on Twitter and you have a romance that you don’t expect will happen and will leave Claire tricked and disappointed.
You wouldn’t be too far off on that for plot, but there is a lot more to it — JD DOES end up giving Claire the time of day, but it won’t be the same JD she was tweeting with. When the bomb drops about who the “real” JD is (“real” as in the one playing him on Twitter and the one who is a boring, one track minded jock in person), things among the four good friends will shift . . . and it might be to everyone’s benefit.
Tweet Heart was a cute, fluffy read that I really found worked well with the Twitter platform. The quick bursts really gave each character a distinct voice and made their personalities work well; in fact, I found some of the additional stuff — the emails and blog entries — almost distracting. I think the book would have functioned well completely without them.
This book made me think a lot about the studies that come out, oh, about daily, stating that teenagers aren’t using Twitter. Whether or not that is true, I think that this book will reach a teen audience easily, as teens understand how the social media platform works, and I think they will connect with these completely plugged-in teens. Besides that, they will also connect with the trick Will plays as they recognize themselves in either his position or Claire’s position; if not themselves, they likely know someone who has been in either of those places.
We have four unique characters, too: the girl who wants a boy who she believes is out of her league; the girl who has no problem meeting and dating boys (she meets one while on a family trip in Europe but it fizzles out from distance, but no fear: soon after, she’s found another guy while at a department store); the guy who has a mad crush on the first girl; and the guy who is a big, lovable dork. I think Bennett, the unabashed geek, was my favorite character.
It’s a clean read, too, with no language or adult situations. This is the kind of book any teenage girl could pick up and enjoy without having to worry about reading something uncomfortable. There’s enough thrust to the story line and the format to interest a wide variety of primarily female readers — from those preferring Jenny B. Jones and Cindy Martinusen-Coloma to those who prefer Simone Elkeles.
While this one won’t have huge staying power, I think it’ll get a nice readership for a few years. I hope Rudnick publishes more titles, though not necessarily in just this format; I think her style and her true-to-life dialog will resonate with teens. Though I didn’t initially plan on purchasing this one for my library, I ended up purchasing a copy for both branches because of the wide appeal, unique format, and relatability that readers will have to these four likeable and flawed characters.
Kelly Jensen is a former librarian turned editor for Book Riot. She's the author of IT HAPPENS: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader and the forthcoming Feminism For The Real World (Algonquin Young Readers, Spring 2017).