Buy I Hate You, Fuller James
Regular price: $18.65
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Reviewer: Melissa on Dec. 11, 2020
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I haven’t read a Crush title in several years, but when Kelly Anne Blount asked whether I’d like to read I Hate You, Fuller James, I knew I had to say yes. In the past, the short and sweet YA romance novels that characterize the Crush brand were the kind of cotton candy reads that I delighted in picking up. I meant to read this one earlier this year, but 2020 gave me new reading goals—like a desire to focus on diverse reads of all sorts, especially novels featuring Black characters. While this book only has diverse, secondary characters, after reading a particularly dark book for review, I knew that Blount’s novel would be exactly what I needed to get back to my happy place, and I was right.
I Hate You, Fuller James kept me up late into the night a few days this past week. As with many Crush titles, it is written in the dual, first person POVs of the female and male love interests of the book. While there were a few things that I didn’t love about Wren’s character early on, I gave her feelings and words a little leeway because of the bullying she’d gone through in middle school as a result of the now school basketball captain, Fuller James. Initially, Wren seemed a little immature for a high school senior to me perhaps because she was so stuck on hating Fuller for reasons that weren’t the complete truth. Moreover, the bullying Wren experienced by her ex-best friend, Marissa, makes her say that she has purposefully written off having other girls as friends, which I thought was a little unfortunate. Marissa is a jerk, but not all teen girls are like her, so I hope that Wren learns she can trust girls just as much as her two best guy friends, Dae and Brandon.
In contrast, there was something about the way Blount wrote Fuller’s POV that immediately won me over to him. The way he talks about Hudson’s, his 9-year-old brother, chronic disease with sensitivity and care even from the first chapter helped. In addition, his internal monologue made it clear that he was more than the cocky jock that Wren assumed he was. If there was more to him than his external persona, then I assumed that Blount would show there was more to the story about Fuller’s bullying of Wren than meets the eye. And because I love being right about these things when it comes to YA or adult romance, I was not disappointed.
In this novel, Fuller James is failing AP Lit, and if he doesn’t pull up his grades to at least a C-, he’ll be riding the bench on the game opener when scouts from his dream school (and others) will be in the stands. After him and Wren are caught throwing mashed potatoes, they get called into the Principal’s Office, and Wren has to agree to tutor Fuller or they’ll both be suspended and she’ll miss out on the STEM camp she wanted to go to next summer. Wren hates him, but she can’t risk being suspended and she definitely couldn’t say no to her uncle and Fuller’s coach, so this enemies to lovers and close proximity YA romance begins. Then Coach Carter forces both Wren and Fuller to secrecy about this arrangement, which leads to Fuller making a really dumb bet to keep his tutoring on the down-low and a secret that is sure to blow up in his face.
Beyond the romance, there is a lot to love about I Hate You, Fuller James. I loved the way Blount incorporates Hudson’s brittle bone disease and Wren’s grandpa’s Alzheimer’s disease. She talks about these chronic conditions and how they affect both Fuller and Wren in a sensitive way. These enemies become closer and start to see a different side of one another, in part, because of their shared understanding of what it’s like to worry about a close family member’s health. In addition, Fuller has no idea before their tutoring sessions just how much of a basketball fan Wren is. She doesn’t play basketball herself—she’s on the school track team—but not only does she know all the rules of basketball, but also she keeps track of Fuller and his team mate’s stats in a way that only a super fan would. The author shows that there is more to the smartest girl in school and the dumb jock stereotypes, and in doing so, will have every reader hoping that Wren and Fuller find a way to work it out.
If you’re looking for a cute, YA sports romance with an enemies to lovers vibe, then I highly recommend I Hate You, Fuller James.
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