3.5 star, YA

ARC Review: The Girl Least Likely by Katy Loutzenhiser

To All the Boys meets The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (with a dash of Dumplin’) in this funny, romantic, and heartfelt coming of age story about a teen stand-up comic learning how to be her truest self, from the author of If You’re Out There.

Gretchen has always been more of a “least likely” than a “most likely” kind of girl. So how does she somehow find herself living out every trope from her favorite rom-coms…?

The Best Friend Crush: Why is it suddenly so hard to act normal around her childhood BFF, Samuel? Must be time for a—

Makeover(!): Black leather pants and some red lipstick are apparently enough to lend Gretchen the bravado to do an impromptu set at a comedy club, and catch the eye of—

The Roguish Bad Boy: Jeremy, the alluring young comic who thinks her name is Sabrina. It might just be—

The Perfect Cover: A funny-girl alter-ego that frees Gretchen to explore who she really is—and what she really wants. But as rom-coms have taught her, leading a double life can only last so long.

**The Girl Least Likely comes out June 29, 2021**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Ever felt like you had a love-laugh relationship with romantic comedies? You don’t wanna admit that you like them – because let’s be honest you much rather make fun of some of their biggest tropes – yet you know almost everything there is to know about the biggest rom-com hits of the last decade or more. Wouldn’t that technically make you a fan?

Well, The Girl Least Likely is a lot like that and for sure you’d enjoy our heroine Gretchen for this reason. In the vein of various rom-com tropes, each chapter dives fully into one that connects well with the overall story.

A girl falls for her best friend but he doesn’t like her that way (possibly?). She ends up with an alias in the most unlikely ways that she finds herself using to catch the eye of another intriguing guy (who may just be interested in her too?). What could ever go wrong with that? I personally love the falling for the best friend trope but if that’s not your cup of tea, bad boy Jeremy may definitely fill that area.

And all in the context of a stand up comedy scene? Gretchen dives deep into her life and the things that make up her struggles to put a funny twist to them. Like never feeling like she had people and being overwhelmed by crowds. Yet maybe here she finally fit in and crowds were not quite so daunting. Maybe here, she had finally found her voice.

I liked seeing Gretchen become more comfortable in her own skin, largely by figuring out what made up her life. I could relate to that still at times, and seeing how putting on a persona helped lend courage when things were hard to face initially. She was an enjoyable protagonist to follow, and I learned a lot about stand up comedy in the process.

The romance was secondary to me although it was a huge element in this story. While the synopsis definitely hints at a love triangle, I didn’t hate it like I normally do with these complicated matters of the heart. But don’t think this one was that straightforward as we all know rom-coms can deliver the most surprising ending to love sometimes.

The biggest things I had issues with was the lack of development or characterization of the secondary characters. Even the love interests. Best friend Samuel was the guy who grew up and outgrew their friendship ‘cause he was popular. Bad boy Jeremy was mysterious and knew how to flirt well – potentially in ways that may backfire when more than one girl was caught by his alluring charm. Even potential rival Natalie was popular, a leader of some student organization (in this case, yearbook) and hard to hate no matter how hard you try. Doesn’t that sound awfully familiar? Or super vague? Why couldn’t there be a little more depth? I’m not sure.

With a title that mimics common graduation superlatives given to one another in yearbook, it’s no surprise people are still reflective of their stereotypes in some ways. However, the author does try to flip them on their heads a little, like a nice popular girl which would’ve been a juxtaposition several years ago in YA. I’m just not sure it was enough.

The novel kept things fun(ny), and left us with the idea that someone who may feel like they’re the girl least likely to do or be anything may only just be beginning their journey leaving high school. And that made this book interesting to read.

Overall Recommendation:

The Girl Least Likely is a play on all popular rom-com tropes following a girl who’s crushing on her best friend all of a sudden (unrequitedly!) and ends up with an alias doing stand up comedy at a bar where another guy just may help her with her woes. From shy Gretchen to her bold and funny alter ego, we flip through the different things about rom-com storylines that make them oddly enjoyable and come to a heartwarming conclusion that even the girl least likely can be brave enough to choose her destiny and find herself.


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