In a middle-grade twist on the classic tale of Cyrano de Bergerac’s clandestine wooing of the fair Roxane on behalf of the tongue-tied Christian, Joanne Levy, author of the very funny Small Medium at Large, confirms that first loves aren’t always as innocent or simple as often suggested.
Twelve-year-old Kat and her next-door neighbour, Tyler, have a lot in common: they both like playing Zombie Slashers, watching anime movies, reading fantasy books, and volunteering at a local animal shelter. But Tyler, who recently started attending Kat’s school, is now on the radar of every girl in Grade 7, including Kat’s best friend and cousin, Olivia. Kat agrees to help Olivia get Tyler’s attention and an invite to the school’s first dance. So begins Project Ty-Livia, which involves Kat providing Olivia with cheat sheets about Tyler, pretending to be Olivia when playing online video games, and prompting her cousin with the right answers to Tyler’s questions. Tyler starts to become interested in Olivia, but it’s a farce – readers know it’s really Kat, not her popularity-driven cousin, whom Tyler likes. But despite a change in her own feelings for Tyler, Kat sees herself as a “warthog” because of her braces, glasses, and two left feet. How could she possibly win Tyler’s attention over the pretty and graceful Olivia?
Crushing It is about more than the angst of a first crush. With her trademark humour, Levy demonstrates that infatuations – whether overt or unspoken – can be overwhelming and embarrassing, especially when you don’t remain true to yourself. Thankfully, Kat, Olivia, and Tyler all attain happily-ever-afters, though not the ones they might have set out to find – or manipulate.