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Not Exactly a Love Story Hardcover – December 11, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Non-athletic, 15-year-old Vinnie doesn't think life can get any worse than his dog dying, his case of hyperactive acne, and his parents' sudden divorce. Then his mother marries his gym teacher. The silver lining in the teenager's rain cloud is that their new home in Queens is next door to foxy, blonde Patsy. Even though he's too scared to talk to her, serendipity provides Vinnie with her phone number, which begins a series of anonymous midnight phone conversations. Under the protective blanket of darkness, his suave, witty alter ego emerges as Vincenzo, resulting in a strong bond of friendship-albeit one built on false identities. Yet, when Vinnie's inner knight-in-shining-armor surfaces in the boys locker room to defend Patsy's honor, a hero is born (although somewhat bruised and disheveled), and with it a daylight friendship. Thus begins the melding of Vinnie/Vincenzo. Ultimately, Vinnie discovers that the risk of rejection is worth a chance to walk through the scary parts of life holding your best friend's hand. Couloumbis weaves a heartwarming tale about the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of teenage life and love. Maxwell Glick's narration perfectly captures struggling Vinnie and self-confident Vincenzo's voices, but offers little variation for the other characters. A great listen.-Cheryl Preisendorfer, Twinsburg City Schools, OHα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

Just as the title promises, this is a romance—sort of. Fifteen-year-old Vinnie happens upon the phone number of his crush, Patsy, and calls her at midnight only to blurt out the kind of vulgar statement that would make an obscene phone caller proud. He calls again, once more at midnight, to apologize. So begins a strange dial-a-relationship between two teens who come to realize their similarity: “If I’m screwed up it’s okay, because we both are.” Vinnie keeps his identity secret—he thinks of his confident phone persona as “Vincenzo”—but Patsy is angling to meet at the masked Valentine’s Day dance. If you’ve seen your share of teen movies, you know what’s afoot: Patsy develops an interest in the real Vinnie and begins discussing him with Vincenzo. What to do?! There are a number of plot and character stretches here, and Patsy’s interest in her phone stalker never quite washes. However, the general lack of serious incident and sprinkling of family drama mark this for what it is: a light, diverting read that goes down easy. Grades 8-11. --Daniel Kraus
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 0660 (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (December 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037586783X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375867835
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1 x 5.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,607,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bookworm1858 VINE VOICE on March 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

As seems to happen so often to me of late, I am of two minds about this book, one very positive, the other latching onto one element that really drags down the rating of the book because it just strikes me the wrong way. It's a huge bummer because of course I want to love every book I read.

Let's start with the good, which is that this is a historical. It is so weird to classify this it that way but it is set in 1977 while being written today so that is what it technically is (sidenote: props to Coulombis for not making any characters obsessed with Star Wars because I would have been unable to resist that temptation). But it feels very contemporary with its focus on high school, love, and family. I especially loved the family plot, which has Vinnie's parents getting divorced, his mother almost immediately remarried, and Vinnie moving across the city, forced to attend a new school and getting bullied. He's also navigating crushes including the beautiful popular Patsy who is dating Vinnie's bully. All of these parts were just fine with a good balance struck between everything.

What is the bad then? Well, Vinnie steals the phone number to the private line of Patsy, who lives next door to him. He decides to call her at midnight and his opening line is...shall we say...not smooth. He sounds like a pervert and he continues to call her, trying to develop a real relationship. Along the way he thinks about how she could've been nicer and more understanding but it's not like she owes him anything. It's also really creepy that she learns he goes to her school but he refuses to divulge his name or his private number or anything about himself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CWilli00 on January 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Vinnie is not having a good year, and he keeps messing up. He doesn't mean to make things harder for himself, but it keeps happening. First his parents split up, and then his mom starts dating someone new. This results in Vinnie moving to a new school with a new set of problems.

Patsy is one of the popular girls at school, and she is also Vinnie's neighbor. She doesn't seem to notice him at first. Vinnie finds her unlisted number and calls her late one night. It doesn't go very well. He comes across as an obscene caller. He eventually manages to smooth things over and the phone calls become a nightly occurrence. Only Vinnie has never told Patsy who he is. Then, in real life, Vinnie starts hanging out with Patsy. Patsy seems torn between real Vinnie and phone Vinnie. Vinnie himself needs to decide how to tell Patsy his secret without losing what he has.

This book is set in the 1970s. That is important because there are no cell phones, caller ID, or any other way to tell who is calling.

Vinnie is completely safe making his nightly phone calls to Patsy.
Overall this was a solid read. The story moves at a good pace, and the characters are believable. I liked that Vinnie was a nice guy that just kept screwing up. We've all had those periods in our lives where we just can't pull it together. It was also refreshing to read a book about a relationship from the guy's perspective.
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Format: Audio CD
I listened to this audiobook while commuting to my job and while working. It was a cute story without any complication. Vinnie is a typical underdog who underestimates his abilities, athletic, smarts, and popularity potential. Patsy is your typical popular girl, who use to be an outcast. I could related to both these characters - despite having nothing in common with Patsy. There were times that I found Vinnie to be fake and unlikeable - I think that had something to do with the personas he was trying to keep up for Patsy, both as himself and as Vincenzo. But overall I really liked how he was written and how he developed throughout the story. I love how Patsy developed throughout the story - she turned into a real person not just a typical, stereotypical blonde popular high school girl.

The story as a whole was cute and well written. I found the events believable. The only problem I found was that I didn't even realize that this was written in a specific time period (the 70s). Obviously it wasn't in present time because they weren't using cellphones but actual landline phones. This is nothing against the story exactly, but I was surprised to read that it was based in 1977 when starting this review (I had read the description ages ago).

Overall, this was a nice easy read (or I guess listen for me). I actually put aside another book I was reading in order to finish this one - listening to it on my lunch instead of reading the physical book I had brought with me. I would recommend this as a summer read or if you just want something cute with an underdog story. I have a soft spot for the underdogs and despite the fake feeling I had every once and a while with Vinnie, I couldn't help but root for him.
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Format: Hardcover
Vinnie is a high school student with a face full of acne and an extremely awkward personality that makes you sympathize with him. To make matters worse, his mom divorces his father and marries his gym teacher, and they decide to move to Long Island. There, he goes right from mourning his old relationship to crushing on Patsy, the gorgeous girl next door, whose room he can see through his window. Then, Vinnie accidentally finds Patsy's number in locker room. He decides to call her at midnight but can't bring himself to say anything. At his third call, Patsy answers acidly, and Vinnie says something rude in response. Vinnie feels badly about his racy comments to Patsy and continues to call her every night at midnight trying to apologize to her. In the process, a strange friendship is born between them.

Vinnie's actions border on stalkerish, and yet I couldn't help wanting to support him. He's in an awkward stage of life and is like every other teenager looking for happiness in life. I like the connection that Vinnie and Patsy form during their late-night calls. Talking to each other anonymously allows them to chat freely and without fear of judgment. I'm sure Vinnie and Patsy wouldn't have gotten to know each other so well if they just met each other in the class. They come from such different backgrounds.

Still, I don't like how Patsy entertains a mysterious male caller every night. It's also strange that her parents never hear her on the phone. I wonder where Vinnie and Patsy's parents are because not once does any of them interrupts their child talking during such late hours or brings it up during the day. I also would have liked to see Vinnie make some regular friendships at school and do something other than listening in on Patsy's friends' conversations.
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