Hi friends! I’ve mostly been on hiatus for a few months due to a bout of carpal tunnel syndrome that’s made typing a bit difficult for me. But I’m back today with a very special post–I’m super excited to be a stop on the official blog tour for As If On Cue by Marisa Kanter, one of my most anticipated 2021 releases!
AUTHOR: Marisa Kanter
CATEGORY/AUDIENCE: Young Adult
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance, contemporary
RELEASE: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
PUBLISHER: September 21, 2021
LINKS: Goodreads | Bookshop.org
SYNOPSIS: “A pair of fierce foes are forced to work together to save the arts at their school in this swoony YA enemies-to-lovers romance that fans of Jenny Han and Morgan Matson are sure to adore.
Lifelong rivals Natalie and Reid have never been on the same team. So when their school’s art budget faces cutbacks, of course Natalie finds herself up against her nemesis once more. She’s fighting to direct the school’s first ever student-written play, but for her small production to get funding, the school’s award-winning band will have to lose it. Reid’s band. And he’s got no intention of letting the show go on.
But when their rivalry turns into an all-out prank war that goes too far, Natalie and Reid have to face the music, resulting in the worst compromise: writing and directing a musical. Together. At least if they deliver a sold-out show, the school board will reconsider next year’s band and theater budget. Everyone could win.
Except Natalie and Reid.
Because after spending their entire lives in competition, they have absolutely no idea how to be co-anything. And they certainly don’t know how to deal with the feelings that are inexplicably, weirdly, definitely developing between them…”
Natalie and Reid have been rivals their whole lives, and now it’s reached an-all time high. Natalie is dreaming of putting on an original play, but she’s got to compete with Reid and his bandmates for their school’s limited arts budget. But when their quickly escalating rivalry goes too far, they’re forced to compromise—and put on a musical together. But how can they work together after competing their whole lives? And what happens when that rivalry begins to feel like something else?
As If On Cue is a laugh-out-loud contemporary YA romance. This enemies-to-lovers story is full of pranks and hijinks, and I loved watching two rivals being forced to work together. As If On Cue also tackles complicated family dynamics; Reid’s and Natalie’s families are close, and Natalie’s father, Aaron, is a musical mentor to clarinet prodigy Reid. Natalie struggles with feelings of jealousy towards her father and Reid’s relationship, and the two are constantly competing for Aaron’s affection. I really appreciate how Marisa Kanter balanced an adorable romance with heavier themes of family, and I think the complex familial relationships are something so many teen readers will relate to.
In addition to the swoon-worthy romance and complex family dynamics, As If On Cue also explores a number of other themes in a thoughtful way. Natalie’s original play, Melted, is inspired by Frozen and tackles climate change. While the environmental aspect was subtle, I still appreciated this theme woven into the book. As If On Cue also addresses changing friendships and fears of the future—two themes that I know will resonate with so many.
Like Marisa’s debut What I Like About You (which was one of my 2020 favorites—read my review here!), As If On Cue has wonderful, authentic Jewish representation. Both Natalie and Reid are Jewish, and I loved how their identities were seamlessly woven into the story. Despite being a light-hearted contemporary read, As If On Cue also tackles antisemitic microaggressions. As a Jewish reader, both of Marisa’s books have made me feel seen and heard.
Alongside Natalie and Reid is a robust, fleshed-out cast of supporting characters. I especially loved Natalie’s siter Delia and Reid’s sister Hannah, and enjoyed the subplot of Delia preparing for her bat mitzvah. The supporting cast also includes a number of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ characters. I particularly loved Natalie’s friend Fitz, a queer budding fashion influencer, and would totally read an entire book about her.
Natalie and Reid were such incredibly different characters, and it was so much fun to see them butt heads over the musical. One of my favorite things in YA is characters who are realistically flawed and messy, and Natalie definitely fit that bill. Natalie is headstrong and knows what she wants, but also has room to grow and learn how to make space for others. I also really enjoyed the juxtaposition of Natalie’s and Reid’s families: Natalie’s parents are artsy and have always encouraged her to follow her dreams, while Reid’s parents have tried to push him towards a more traditional, practical career path. Natalie has been given the time and space to explore the arts, while Reid feels like he has something to prove through his music. The two look at art very differently, and I loved the message that all art is valid and valuable.
In terms of pacing, the enemies-to-lovers romance between Natalie and Reid leans towards slow-burn, but that’s not a bad thing! As the two are forced to spend more and more time together, their feelings of rivalry and hatred slowly transform and Natalie struggles to accept the newfound spark between them. I loved watching their relationship change and had so much fun rooting for them to get together. In addition to spot-on pacing, one of my other favorite things about Marisa’s writing is the witty, authentic teen voices she captures. Her characters are flawed and they’re allowed to make mistakes, and that makes their stories feel so much more realistic.
I absolutely adored Marisa’s 2020 debut, and her sophomore novel has easily solidified her spot as one of my favorite YA authors! As If On Cue is an absolute must-read for readers who enjoy contemporary romance and fans of musical theater. As a teen services librarian, I can’t wait for our library copy to arrive; I’ll be recommending it to readers who enjoyed Marisa’s debut as well as fans of Rachel Lynn Solomon, Becky Albertalli, or Sophie Gonzales. You can bet I’ll be watching my mailbox for my pre-ordered copy of As If On Cue, and watching my calendar for Marisa’s next book release!
Marisa Kanter is a young adult author, amateur baker, and reality television enthusiast. She is the author of What I Like About You and As If On Cue. Born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, her obsession with books led her to New York City, where she worked in the publishing industry to help books find their perfect readers. She currently lives in Los Angeles, writing love stories by day and searching for the perfect slice of pizza by night.
KEEP UP WITH MARISA: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads
Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour! See the schedule below.
|9/13/2021||Book Bratz||Author Q&A|
|9/14/2021||Not in Jersey||Review|
|9/15/2021||I’m All Booked Up||Review|
|9/16/2021||Books Libraries Also Cats||Review|
|9/17/2021||Kayla Reads and Reviews||Review|
|9/20/2021||Pages and Pugs||Review|
|9/22/2021||From the Library of Alexis||Review|
|9/23/2021||Rants & Raves of a Bibliophile||Review|
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for the free review copy, and for including me on this tour!