Reviewed by Kaelin Lee, age 15

As If on Cue by Marisa Kanter

Natalie has been a lifelong rival of Reid. So when the school cuts all funding for the arts, ergo cutting Natalies’ hope of directing her student-written play, she finds herself up against Reid again to allocate funding for the arts outside the school’s award-winning band, Reid’s band. The rivalry gets out of hand in a prank war, resulting in the school putting a condition on Natalie’s opportunity to create the play and fight for arts funding. They have to co-direct and write a musical version of her play, which is an alternate rendition of Frozen. After learning how to work together for once, they start to see each other as more than competitors, and the possibility of being something beyond that rises as weird yet inexplicable feelings develop on both sides.

At the beginning of the book, I found an issue with how there seemed to be a lot of summaries of Reid and Natalie’s history rather than just letting us see the rivalry slowly revealed through actions. Natalie’s relationship with her father also seemed quite one-dimensional, as he only acknowledged her existence when it came to music. This was part of why Natalie resented Reid. When he started taking clarinet lessons with her dad, a music teacher, she felt that he was taking her dad away from her, leading her to quit the clarinet. This is a common theme that occurs of Natalie being immature and selfish throughout the book. Her strained relationship with her dad is understandable, but she unfairly decides to take it out on Reid. Her acts of rivalry additionally far exceed Reid in the harm they do, especially in the end. It was difficult to read about Reid quickly dismissing her for an unforgivable act. That being said, how upsetting that was indicated my investment in the character’s romance, which was undeniably endearing to read as their story unfolded in a satisfying, slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance. The pacing was really well done. They didn’t get together too quickly but instead kept the readers engaged, waiting for their humor-filled, fun scenes that make us root for them. Plus, the plot surrounding Reid’s music and Natalie’s directing journey was enjoyable, supported by likable side characters. Overall, the negatives of the book didn’t outweigh the positives, and I’d suggest it for a lighthearted read that will keep one wanting to read chapter after chapter.

3.5 stars of 5 stars

Find this book in our catalog: As if on Cue

Catalog Number: YA FIC KANTER,M

389 pages