Book review of How You Get the Girl by Anita Kelly


Anita Kelly dedicates their latest rom-com, How You Get the Girl, to “every queer and trans person in Tennessee. Your joy will outlive the cruelty of your government.” A teen librarian by day, Kelly knows intimately how remarkable educators can make all the difference in the world.

Julie Parker is enjoying her first season as the head coach for East Nashville High’s women’s basketball team. By day she works as a fundraiser, but after school, for a few fun months every year, she’s the coach every student dreams of having—because Coach Julie understands teenagers. She’s engaged, approachable and supportive of her team, both on the court and off. It’s beautifully evident from the very first pages, as Julie adapts to and charms a difficult new student, Vanessa Lerner.

Vanessa’s aunt and new foster mother, Elle Cochrane, is an ex-WNBA star who hasn’t played basketball in eight years and is trying to find equilibrium in her and Vanessa’s new normal. Elle doesn’t get regularly recognized by the public any more, so she finds Julie’s instant fangirling as adorable and refreshing as she does Julie herself. When Julie asks her to be the team’s new assistant coach, Elle can’t help but say yes.

How You Get the Girl is fun, flirty and full of heart, a story of two people falling for each other despite the chaos around them. Julie wrestles with defining her love for a woman, since she’s always considered her sexuality label-less. Elle struggles with the overwhelming responsibility of suddenly becoming a parent, to a teenager no less. While these challenges and more affect Julie and Elle’s burgeoning relationship, their bond motivates and unites them. Love is big and scary and exciting, and Kelly proves that the biggest win is being brave enough to open your heart to another person.

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