Sophie Gonzales, Perfect on Paper, Hachette Australia, March 2021, 288 pp., RRP $17.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781444959277
Every student in the school knew about locker 89. All you had to do was slip in an envelope with a letter and money, and you would be sent an email in return with some (usually) foolproof relationship advice. Only two people in the world knew who was behind the infamous advice-giving locker.
At least, there were, until the Australian new kid Alexander Brougham caught Darcy Phillips red-handed. Even Brooke, Darcy’s best friend (and secret crush) didn’t know she was behind the locker, and it was integral to their relationship that it stayed that way. So, she made a deal. In exchange for him keeping her secret, Darcy would help entitled, bratty, Brougham to win his ex-girlfriend back.
What could possibly go wrong?
One of my favourite aspects of this book is the amount of representation through the characters. There are characters of different ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities, genders, and body types. Darcy is bisexual, and throughout the story, she comes to realise that she has internalised biphobia which she must overcome with the support of her friends. The sheer amount of representation in this otherwise familiar and loveable rom-com is very refreshing.
Another aspect of the book I quite enjoyed was that many of the chapters began with a letter from a student to locker 89 and Darcy’s anonymous reply. It was fun to hear some realistic struggles teenagers have with their relationships, and the pretty legit advice they get in return. We even get to meet some of the characters who wrote the letters later, when Darcy puts two and two together. As this book heavily revolves around Darcy’s role as a relationship guru, it was intriguing to read about her process behind answering the letters, and the different attachment types that are discussed a fair bit. It was kind of hilarious after seeing how well-versed she is, what a mess she makes with her own relationships.
Although I wouldn’t usually be one to pick up this kind of book, I found myself getting sucked into the story and drama. I would recommend this loveable new queer YA rom-com by Sophie Gonzales to anyone 12+ who likes their tea scalding.
Reviewed by Libby Boas