In her sophomore novel, The Right Side of Reckless, Whitney D. Grandison offers a cute opposites-attract romance that still tackles real world issues. While this book uses the classic “bad boy good girl” trope and doesn’t have much plot, the characters are real and kept me invested in the story.
Reagan London has always been the perfect daughter. When her father pressured her to take accounting, she gave in, knowing that’s not the career she wants to pursue. When football star Troy Jordan chased after her, she agreed to date him, despite not returning his feelings. Over time, she’s learned to love him, but now he’s pushing her to have sex with him when she doesn’t want to, making her rethink her entire relationship. She wants to break free of others’ expectations to become her own person, but the task feels daunting.
Guillermo Lozano is finally trying to be the good song his parents deserve. After three arrests and time in juvie, he wants to turn his life around. His parents have moved neighborhoods and schools to help him leave his old habits behind. His worst habit—falling for girls who are no good. He’s determined that at this new school, he will just make friends.
But part of his probation is volunteering at the local community center, where he and Reagan cross paths. She’s beautiful, but also sweet and kind, which is new for him. Reagan feels instant attraction to him as well. He’s not only incredibly hot, but respectful and considerate too.
Opposition rises up instantly. Reagan has a boyfriend, and Guillermo never wants to mess with another guy’s girl again. His parents want him to stay away, worrying she will threaten his rehabilitation. Her parents warn her away, preferring their daughter’s star athlete boyfriend to an ex-con. And yet, these two find themselves drawn together again and again.
Overall, the concept of this novel is nothing… novel (haha). A good girl and a bad boy learning they aren’t all that different and falling for each other is a trope that’s done frequently, and Grandison doesn’t twist or reinvent it. The plot also dragged for me. There isn’t much plot to begin with, and that’s fine—I prefer character driven novels. However, I was frustrated by how long it took the two main characters to get together. We could lose some angst and gain tighter pacing and more kissing scenes!
The characters are where this book really shines. For me, reading Reagan’s perspective was the most enjoyable part of the experience. As someone who has always struggled with parental approval, her problems and emotional journey felt very real to me. I also appreciated how the author chose to focus on Reagan’s choice not to have sex and the impact it has on her relationships with other guys. This is an issue that many teens struggle with, but is rarely dealt with in fiction.
Guillermo’s perspective was harder. I occasionally felt his chapters dragging, mainly because I struggled to relate to him. That is entirely subjective, based on my own experience. His character was well written and felt authentically like a teenage boy. I appreciated hearing his perspective, even if I didn’t always agree with it. In general, all the teenager characters were well written and fleshed out in this novel.
If you’re looking for a sweet, real, diverse YA that will tug on your heartstrings, add this to your TBR!
The Right Side of Reckless was published on July 13th, 2021.