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For most of her teenage life, CeCe Edmonds has been dealing with the stares and the not-so-polite whispers that follow her around Edgelake High. So she has a large scar on her face—Harry Potter had one on his forehead and people still liked him.
CeCe never cared about her looks—until Emmett Brady, transfer student and football darling, becomes her literature critique partner. The only problem? Emmett is blindsided by Bryn DeNeuville, CeCe’s gorgeous and suddenly shy volleyball teammate.
Bryn asks CeCe to help her compose messages that’ll charm Emmett. CeCe isn’t sure there’s anything in his head worth charming but agrees anyway—she’s a sucker for a good romance. Unfortunately, the more messages she sends and the more they run into each other, the more she realizes there’s plenty in his head, from food to literature. Too bad Emmett seems to be falling for the wrong girl…
Too many shades of Cyrano de Begerac’s tragicomedy are at work here as CeCe lets herself get carried away as she helps a flighty teammate win the new Quarterback she likes through lyrics and poems (synchronicity matters in hobbies, after all), as things go predictably pear-shaped and minds get scrambled.
Yet ‘Don’t Kiss the Messenger’ has put me in such a bind. It’s cleverly written really, with bona fide depth to it like those arty teen movies of the ‘90s, with a kind of teenage-philosophising that comes when it gets melancholy. The insights into music, songs and life—written into the characters—do lend them a maturity that I don’t always read about, as they burst at the seams with literary references merged with heightened teenage angst. The hr was immensely relatable: made out to be the everyday geek-artistic girl who’s also an athlete, though I wondered if her personality—and the tough, razor-sharp exterior—had been shaped by the scar on her face. Her tendency to get lost in fiction, the prickly way she reacts because of her physical appearance…I could relate to all of it. Emmett himself was one of a kind: the artistic all-rounded guy who excelled in sports and music, with a sensitive side that made him a catch for any girl.
What frustrated me though, was that CeCe let it go that far for it to all blow up in her face, inevitably making this a story where there was always a third party in this awkward not-quite relationship throughout. I couldn’t understand how Emmett never did recognise the discrepancy in intelligence, or in the difference in CeCe’s and Bryn’s voices (again, a scene taken straight out from Cyrano) and how that didn’t cause him to question anything more as he still went ahead with their physical relationship when he’d explicitly stated that he wanted to be in love with Bryn before falling into bed with her.
Yet the deception still went on; Emmett still ended up in bed with the other woman and that pretty much ruined it all for me, even though he realises in the end that he and CeCe had a soulmate connection. The epilogue felt almost like Emmett’s insistence at covering his bases—that he and CeCe were inevitable no matter what, but by then, I was less than convinced.