It’s my first book review of 2020! Ten Blind Dates isn’t the greatest read ever, and I probably won’t remember it in a couple of weeks. But it’s relatively clean, and there’s a major dearth of holiday novels for teens. I even laughed out loud a few times!
Seventeen-year old Sophie is excited to be home alone for the first time in her life. Well, not exactly home and not exactly alone, either. She’ll be staying with her large, boisterous Italian family while her parents stay with her pregnant sister, who has been put on bed rest. Sophie’s excited she’ll at least get a little alone time with her long-time boyfriend Griffin, but that plan comes to a screeching halt when she and Griffin break up instead. Now, in an effort to cheer Sophie up, her family arranges ten blind dates for Sophie’s Christmas break, and Sophie reluctantly agrees to give it a try.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT 10 BLIND DATES
Okay, at first, I struggled to get into this one. Sophie and her boyfriend Griffin break up early-on, but after that, it just took a little bit for me to get into the story. Keeping track of family members is difficult at first, too. But once the dates started, I found myself laughing out loud at the antics of some of Sophie’s family members. I especially loved Sophie’s grandparents, “Nonna” and “Papa,” who have a super-cute “how we met” story from decades ago.
The dates are all unique, and along the way, Sophie learns some things about herself and her relationship with her cousins. Some of the dates go well, and some definitely do not. There is, of course, a romance brewing in the background throughout all of this. That romance is predictable, but who cares? It’s sweet and readers will root for Sophie and her not-so-mystery-man. Seriously, readers will predict it early, early, early on.
I appreciate that this is clean enough for middle school but will also appeal to high schoolers. Sophie is in her senior year of high school. College selections come up a few times. I also love that Sophie has a life outside her boyfriend, and while she is upset at the break-up, it doesn’t take her long to see that she’s better off without him anyway.
Another huge plus is that Sophie never wavers in her break-up with Griffin. She misses him in her mind, but she does not ever seriously consider taking him back. Breaking up after a year of dating isn’t easy, and many teen girls will identify with the push-and-pull feeling of breaking up. Sophie recognizes that Griffin isn’t good for her, but missing him is also normal.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT 10 BLIND DATES
If you are looking for a squeaky-clean read, there are a couple of blind dates that might raise some eyebrows.
One Date #4, Sophie goes to a party. The party is fun and unique, with dancing and fun costumes and karaoke and games. At one point though, food is served off semi-naked people. More specifically, a girl in a bikini is lying on a table, and people take cupcakes in liners off her body. The scene is short and non-sexual, but it is a strange addition.
If you want to read this scene for yourself, it starts at the very bottom of p.139 and is over by about halfway through page 140 (hardcover edition). If you’re reading a different edition, it’s about 3/4 way through Date #4. The chapters are not numbered, but they are titled by date number.
On another date, Sophie is set up on a practical joke date. The date takes her to a drive-in movie that’s pornographic. Sophie freaks out and leaves the date immediately, but there’s a short description of naughtiness on the screen. It’s not a huge deal, but if you are looking for squeaky-clean, you might want to read it before buying for the library.
That scene is pages 203-204 in the hardcover, or Date #5 if you are reading a different edition.
No artwork in the book. The cover is a bit cheesy, but Sophie looks exactly as I picture her (maybe because of the cover).
LIBRARIANS WILL WANT TO KNOW
Themes: New Year’s Eve, Christmas, holiday season, blind dates, large families, friendship, breaking up, premature babies
Would adults like this book? Meh, I doubt it. I thought it was cute, but it’s best for a teen audience.
Would I buy this for my high school library? YES, no reservations
Would I buy this for my middle school library? YES, almost no reservations (see “What I Didn’t Like” above)
WHAT DO LIBRARIANS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT 10 BLIND DATES?
Language: none that I remember
Sexuality: mild; some chaste kissing, food served off a woman in a bikini
BOOKTALK OR DISPLAY THIS WITH:
Can you think of any other cute YA reads for New Year’s Eve? Any recommendations?