Book Review: Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

I recently finished reading Top Ten, the newest novel by YA author Katie Cotugno. I knew of her work from having read her novel How to Love, which is one of my favorite YA books and a novel I often find myself still thinking about, even a year after reading it. When Book of the Month revealed that they’d be offering Top Ten as an extra book for members for just $9.99, I jumped at the opportunity for another great read.

Top Ten follows Ryan and Gabby, two teenagers who meet at a party during their freshman year of high school and become best friends, despite their many differences, and despite the fact that they both often wish they were more than just friends. Ryan is a gifted hockey player on the path to becoming a Division I college athlete. He is affable and outgoing, with more friends than he can count, but he struggles with his parents’ divorce and his stilted relationship with his father. Gabby is painfully shy, and suffers from crippling social anxiety. She is a talented photographer, extremely close with her family, and is bisexual.

I loved that Katie Cotugno tackled important issues that don’t always get a lot of attention, especially in YA lit. Ryan has several concussions as a hockey player, and the choice to include this as a major part of the novel felt very strong. Gabby’s anxiety and bisexuality were also very refreshing to read about, and as someone who suffers from social anxiety myself, I felt myself relating to so many things that Gabby encountered. My only wish here was that these issues could have been explored further. I would have loved to delve deeper into these characters and how they handle their struggles, but I felt that a lot of the novel only just scratched the surface.

I loved that the story is told in alternating points of view and that we are able to hear from both Gabby and Ryan and get their individual takes on everything, but I wish it had followed a linear timeline. The jumps in time added a bit of intrigue, but going back in time was sometimes disorienting, and I often felt myself going back to the beginning of chapters to remind myself where I was in the storyline.

All in all, this is a sweet story about two very lovable characters. I didn’t love it as much as How to Love, but I definitely liked it and found myself smiling throughout. I enjoy Katie Cotugno’s storytelling, and decided to get a copy of 99 Days from the library, which I am currently reading and so far enjoying. Its sequel, 9 Days and 9 Nights, comes out in May, and I’m looking forward to reading that as well.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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