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A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Format: E-book
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship. Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together....

This book was sooooo cute! It wasn't sickly sweet or terribly twee - and boy could it have been given the premise - just 'aww' inducing, Joey Potter half smile producing, cute.  Sandy Hall managed to walk that fine line and maintained the right tone throughout. The whole thing was like one big wink really. In fact, the tone kind of reminded me of the opening of 500 Days of Summer.

As the title suggests, the format to A Little Something Different is a little something different. Such a simple idea but executed incredibly well. In the wrong hands, this could've been a mess. Sometimes even two points of view can become confusing if the author doesn't have control right away but somehow, Sandy Hall managed to make maybe 9 (?) - or more - points of view sound completely different! I loved Charlotte and Victor because they brought the realness and I feel I went on a similar journey to them in terms of my feelings toward Lea and Gabe. Professor Inge was more of a romantic but her point of view was definitely needed. 

As for Lea and Gabe. Well...some couples are too cute (see: Brangelina, Blair + Seth Cohen, Zoe Kravitz + whoever she is with), some couples don't register (see: most real life couples and d list celebrity pairings), and some couples are nauseating (see: Kimye, Charlize + Sean). Lea and Gabe started off a little nauseating (I was so on Victor's side in the beginning, shaken not stirred) but by the middle, when they weren't even sure what they thought of each other, they turned into a pair who don't really register on anyone's radar. Finally, by spring semester (or Lent term as we call it over here) you just had to give in and accept their cuteness. I kind of wish we knew more about Lea but it was good to witness Gabe's story unravel and his character evolve (although if you read closely, you can pick up the signs). 

Not much is given away in terms of place and time, which I thought was a nice touch as it helps add to the universality of the story. There's a lot of close friendships and tight families, comfort food, and Starbucks, which made the story feel really warm and fuzzy - but again, I hasten to add, not in a sickly sweet kind of way. Oh and I loved that it was set in college! We need more college stories that don't rely on the good girl falling for the bad guy trope. 

Overall, A Little Something Different did just what it said on the tin. It wasn't too long and it flowed well with snappy dialogue, some chuckle inducing moments, and a bit of whimsy thrown in for luck. A great debut from Sandy Hall! 

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