You Can Go Your Own Way

Inkyard. Nov. 2021. 272p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781335405685.
Gr 9 Up–Philly kids Adam and Whitney were best friends and inseparable through junior high; then, Adam’s father died and the grief caused them to drift apart. Now, both are seniors, and rivals, each struggling in their own way. Adam runs his dad’s faltering pinball arcade while Whitney struggles for her dad’s attention as the social media voice of his growing esports franchise; a franchise intent on buying up the arcade and one of Adam’s last pieces of his father. A massive Philly snowstorm gives the pair a chance to resolve their differences and rediscover their friendship (and maybe even more), but they soon learn the path to reconciliation is not always easy. This is a relatively routine YA romance plot-wise, but gives itself a boost with its inventive premise and with the way Smith explores Adam and Whitney’s struggle to define themselves and their place. It’s also about family and the balance between living for yourself and living up to expectations, real or otherwise. Unfortunately, the story drags quite a bit in the beginning and only really picks up just before the snowstorm hits. The two main characters are developed well and their stories are compelling, but some of the support characters come off two-dimensional. The old versus new dynamic is nicely played out with the arcade and the esports café each supporting the narratives of Adam and Whitney. There are several pinball references, including excerpts from a fictitious book called The Art and Zen of Pinball Repair, and while many of them are interesting, some of the references feel gratuitous. Overall, Smith’s book will find an audience with folks who like a nice, simple romance or are attracted to the subject.
VERDICT A sweet romance with a quirky premise and solid, relatable protagonists.

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