ARC Review: This Time It’s Real by Ann Liang

Posted February 3, 2023 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 6 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review:  This Time It’s Real by Ann LiangThis Time It's Real by Ann Liang
Published by Scholastic Press on February 7, 2023
Genres: YA Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Source: the publisher
Format: ARC
My Rating: five-stars
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Get ready to fall in love in this hilarious romcom about a girl who begins a fake relationship with the famous actor in her class, perfect for fans of Meg Cabot and Jenny Han.

When seventeen-year-old Eliza Lin’s essay about meeting the love of her life unexpectedly goes viral, her entire life changes overnight. Now she has the approval of her classmates at her new international school in Beijing, a career-launching internship opportunity at her favorite magazine…and a massive secret to keep.

Eliza made her essay up. She’s never been in a relationship before, let alone in love. All good writing is lying, right?

Desperate to hide the truth, Eliza strikes a deal with the famous actor in her class, the charming but aloof Caz Song. She’ll help him write his college applications if he poses as her boyfriend. Caz is a dream boyfriend — he passes handwritten notes to her in class, makes her little sister laugh, and takes her out on motorcycle rides to the best snack stalls around the city.

But when her relationship with Caz starts feeling a little too convincing, all of Eliza’s carefully laid plans are threatened. Can she still follow her dreams if it means breaking her own heart?

My Review

This one started out so cute from the very beginning. It was totally a rom-com, although I wouldn’t call it hilarious. It has a lot of funny and cute moments. And I did love the banter between the two, and their awkwardness as well. While there were a lot of the things that I might often remark make me crazy about communication between the characters making things more dramatic than necessary, because these are teen characters, I’m more okay with it. It was also done in a way that actually fit teens in my opinion.

Both characters had their own backgrounds that made for the perfect reasons for them to pair up in this fake relationship. But I loved what we got to know about Caz. He really was such a neat guy, that even with his ego, deserved and appropriate for what he did and who he was, he was lovable! And Eliza’s hang ups made sense with how her life had been, how she had traveled and had to leave behind friends. I wonder these days if kids who travel like that with parents still have the same issues when there is social media? I mean there was social media in this book. But I wonder if it is much different than before those days. It also makes me realize the YA I wrote needs a major update because I wasn’t thinking about social media for the daughter of a military family and her keeping in contact with people in all the places she’d lived.

I also liked how the author didn’t let what they thought would solve an issue towards the end actually be a complete easy save. I love that both characters had to struggle, and that even when one had to kind of be the one begging for another chance, the way the other one reacted and accepted them back in the end was sweet and perfect.

In the end I definitely recommend this as a sweet romance read for the YA readers.

About the Author

Ann Liang is a Chinese-Australian writer of young adult fiction. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. 

Her debut YA novel IF YOU COULD SEE THE SUN (Inkyard/HarperCollins) is out now—you can order it or add it to Goodreads. Her upcoming novels include THIS TIME IT’S REAL (Scholastic, Feb 7 2023) and I AM NOT JESSICA CHEN (Inkyard).

Find her here:

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6 responses to “ARC Review: This Time It’s Real by Ann Liang

    • Lisa Mandina

      Agreed! I love both the hilarious ones and like this one, when they just have some snarky banter or witty moments.

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