Author: Rahul Kanakia.
Reshma is a college counselor’s dream. She’s the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all.
What’s a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent’s help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford.
But she’s convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she’s already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success—a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy.
Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can’t always go as planned. And when the valedictorian spot begins to slip from her grasp, she’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for that satisfying ending. (Note: It’s pretty far.)
What a thoroughly unpleasant book.
It was meant to be, I believe. When you have a first person narrator, the narrator really sets the tone of the book; and, well. A nasty, arrogant, stubborn, selfish psyche is not the kind of worldview I like to immerse myself in. Reshma Kapoor, the solitary, driven, high-scoring senior student and main character, really is one of the most dislikable characters I’ve read in a long time. Her self-discipline and motivation throughout the book as she struggles to get into Stanford is amazing, but when pushing her own limits doesn’t get her the grade she wants, she has no problem browbeating teachers into line. Whether that means pestering them day after day after day, accusing them of racism, or going all the way to the extent of bringing in a lawyer, she is determined to get A+’s no matter what it takes.
There’s going to be a lot of A+ students applying to Stanford. She still needs something more… like having her own agent! Luckily Reshma already has that, after a literary agent was impressed by one of her published essays and contacted her, but she does still need a novel to publish. Since Reshma doesn’t have the requisite imagination for novel-writing, she plans to base the book of her own life – and rather than fictionalize events, she’ll change her own life to spice up the story.
That’s the hook that had me interested, you know, the “change my life, write an novel, get into college” line, because it sounds like the starting point for some great shenanigans.
Tragically, Reshma doesn’t get into any shenanigans. She follows a straight-forward “become a boring highschool student” list that involves getting a boyfriend and making friends and going to parties. She acquires her new “friends” through a combination of bullying, blackmail, and bribery. She hooks up with another student in her class, a boy she barely knows, for the List. She casts her parents as the villains when they protest her slipping grades – and her grades are, indeed, slipping as she leaves less and less time for school. Reshma hasn’t changed enough to brush this off, nor is she willing to abandon her List, so instead she works herself toward a combined nervous breakdown and drug overdose trying to do both.
My main gripe with Enter Title Here is the lack of character development. I think Reshma is supposed to have changed at the ending, but all the signs point to it being a temporary conversion.
Sexual Content: Character puts “having sex” on her goals list. Two characters kiss on several different occasions. MC sees two boys “making out” at a party. Describes a girl with “her breasts almost bouncing out of her halter(top)”. Boy/girl take their shirts off while kissing. Teenage boy/girl have sex together (that should be pages 246-247 in the paperback), no details after undressing.
Language: 20 uses of “God”, 17 scatological terms, 11 F-words, 10 derogatory terms, 6 d***, 4 hell
Violence: Character says “every year, at least one kid commits suicide” at her school.
Other: The main character makes frequent use of aderall, a drug she is not prescribed for, eventually overdosing. There are several scenes of teenagers drinking alcohol and smoking, both in large numbers at parties and in smaller quantities.