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Smash It! #1

Smash It!

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Olivia "Liv" James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does...

After Liv shows up to a Halloween party in khaki shorts--why, God, why?--she decides to set aside her wack AF ways. She makes a list--a F*ck-It list.

1. Be bold--do the thing that scares me.

2. Learn to take a compliment.

3. Stand out instead of back.

She kicks it off by trying out for the school musical, saying yes to a date and making new friends. Life is great when you stop punking yourself! However, with change comes a lot of missteps, and being bold means following her heart. So what happens when Liv's heart is interested in three different guys--and two of them are her best friends? What is she supposed to do when she gets dumped by a guy she's not even dating? How does one Smash It! after the humiliation of being friend-zoned?

In Liv's own words, "F*ck it. What's the worst that can happen?"

A lot, apparently.


368 pages, Hardcover

First published September 22, 2020

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About the author

Francina Simone

8 books2,098 followers
Francina Simone is the author of The Guardians Trilogy, a young adult urban fantasy that explores the strength of love and lost. She was born in Germany, spent her childhood in hot the urban jungle of Orlando Florida, and now resides in the Rockies where she spends more of her time far away with her characters in their quest to make the right decisions in worlds brimming with romance, moral ambiguity, and often times, a touch of magic.

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5 stars
302 (25%)
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360 (30%)
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343 (29%)
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111 (9%)
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47 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 367 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,077 reviews13.3k followers
Want to read
August 12, 2020
DNFing this at pg167.

There was a very harmful joke about an Israeli/Palestinian character that made me so uncomfortable that I put the book down. Other characters make insensitive jokes about a Hawaiian character. I did not feel comfortable enough to continue reading.
Profile Image for jenny✨.
563 reviews803 followers
October 7, 2020
10/07/2020: Clearing my star rating for this book because I don't feel good about its problematic content; leaving my original review of the advance copy up (for now). Thank you nitya and Shealea for highlighting this!

Specifically, this book contains:
– trivializing of conflicts in Palestine (TW: one character makes the joke )
– blatantly discriminatory comments toward Pacific Islanders, and Hawaiians specifically

None of this is addressed in the copy I reviewed, and hasn't been addressed to my knowledge. If anyone knows otherwise please let me know; I will link and amend.


I’m going to say yes to everything that scares me. I’m not gonna let anyone—least of all, myself—punk me anymore.

Have you ever fantasized about having two hot rockstar best friends who are men of colour and together the three of you create goofy steamy banter? No? Just me?

Well if you HAVE, you’re in luck—Smash It! will be the most glorious sparkly wish fulfillment for you! (Eli and Dré—*chef’s kiss*) 💘

I seriously tore through this novel because it was so damn entertaining. Every other page provided fodder for my angst—angst that I didn't even see coming, because the book started on such a lighthearted, quippy note. But that isn't to say there weren't parts that were painfully real; the characters touch on slut/body-shaming, self-acceptance, and the uniquely intersectional experience of Black women.

Liv is a freakin' hilarious narrator:
My jaw drops. Like, I don’t have it anymore. R.I.P. solid foods.

I’m going to be the bigger person. I’m going to be so big I blot out the fucking sun.

I’m not uncool, but I do these uncool things as if I’m addicted to self-sabotage.

I know Smash It! was melodramatic at times, but I was so into the story I honestly didn’t mind. I also think I was okay with Liv wallowing in self-pity because there was always someone to call her on her BS—her mom and sister, Dré, Lennox, Jackie. (Though I was still caught off guard by how unnecessary certain parts were—like, the Polynesian stereotypes were WAY overkill.)

Another reason Liv was cool: I’m never going to expect a perfect protagonist—and I’d really rather not have one because they’re just so boring. I can’t help drawing comparisons to Jerzie from Roman and Jewel, who was talented and driven and beautiful and loving—and so low-stakes I really couldn’t connect to her at all.

And that was genuinely the best part of this book: Liv is selfish and fucks up (really badly, as it’ll turn out, again and again) but her growth and willingness to listen make this a character arc and not character flaw.

EDIT 10/07/2020: ....yeah. Being racist and also cavalier about ongoing struggles that endanger people's lives isn't an arc at all—I'd say that's definitely a flaw. I apologize for writing this initial review without considering the ways in which it hurts and fails to acknowledge the people directly affected by its comments—namely, Palestinian people and Pacific Islanders.

Conclusion: Funny, angsty, and vocal about sex positivity, self-acceptance, and owning being a Black woman—I had fun reading Smash It!. I think I’ve fallen in love a little with every single character because they were each vibrant, imperfect, and endearing in their own ways.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Shealea.
441 reviews1,201 followers
Shelved as 'will-avoid-forever'
October 7, 2020
I wasn't interested in this book, to begin with. However, since I'm seeing so many people comfortably promoting this book on my feed, I feel compelled to say:

Smash It! contains insensitive and hurtful comments, such as racist remarks towards Hawaiians and the trivialization of Palestinian genocide (e.g. "I'd let him holy war up in me"). Members from these marginalized communities have directly asked the author to address these comments, and I've yet to see her publicly acknowledge their concerns.

In simpler words, Skip It!
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,019 reviews15.7k followers
September 30, 2020
Authentic and messy. Bold and real. Positive and questionable. This was a young adult retelling of Othello. Now having never in my life read Othello or know a thing about Othello I couldn’t tell you if it had anything to do with Othello or not. What I can tell you is I really liked the voice of the story. Liv is a 17-year-old girl trying to find her way. Dealing with her insecurities, wanting to be noticed, but afraid to be seen. After attending a Halloween party in a hoodie and khaki shorts Liv decides it’s time to make a change. She creates a F*ck It list and vows to start stepping out of her comfort zone. One of the first things she does is tries out for the high school musical production of... you guessed it... Othello. With her besties Dre and Eli by her side Liv starts... well... living. *Pun intended*

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Liv was such a real character. She had real thoughts, feelings, insecurities, hopes, and dreams. Was she selfish? Yes, but seriously who isn’t when they’re a teenager? She made many a mistake and usually learn from them. The dialogue of the story was so authentically teenager. As a mother of teenagers who has spent some time listening to conversation between my kids friends I found it so real. Teenagers can be so crass, so insensitive, so selfish, and yet so caring. Loved Liv’s friendship with Lennox and Jackie. The sex positivity and the body positivity were fabulous. Eli and Dre we’re great friends and I really liked Liv’s crush on Eli. What I didn’t necessarily love about the book was how entangled and messy everything got towards the end. I think perhaps the story could have done without that, but maybe that has to do with the Othello retailing? A well told story with a genuine feel.

This book in emojis 🎼 🎤 🎺 🎹 🎭 ✏️ 🍭

*** Big thank you to Ink Yard Press for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***
Profile Image for nitya.
362 reviews270 followers
August 13, 2020
GR won't let me remove the book ugh

Anyway, I was excited about reading this for the plus size brown/black girl representation; I have since learned there's anti Asian racism (against Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders) and trivialization of the Palestinian genocide ("I'd let him holy war up in me" REALLY.). How did an editor approve this BS???????

No thanks, goodbye.
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
623 reviews1,952 followers
October 9, 2020
ARC received from -Inkyard Press- in exchange of an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

— overall thoughts: DNF @47% / page 171 —

It makes me sad to just be saying this but it was cringey for me. From the writing style to how our mc was acting.

There were a number of insensitive jokes made but I think the biggest problem with that was that these jokes weren't addressed or resolved properly. (A character makes a joke -> mc says it's bad -> we move on). Info dumps were done every few pages in the first part of the story which really took me away from the narration.

I really thought I would enjoy the plot of this more than I did as someone who is into musicals/music. I'm not that familiar with Othello but honestly this to me just reads like every other ya contemporary. Perhaps someone who has more knowledge about Othello might be able to connect to the story on a deeper level than I did.

There were so many overused tropes in this book with the best friends who have windows facing each other and a love triangle (I was really looking forward to a love square between guys and our main girl). Our mc is also going through the "I didn't know I was beautiful until a guy made me realize I was" phase. I understand that this could be relatable to some people but I'm just tired of reading that kind of trope.

On a brighter note, there are still a lot of positive aspects to the story in terms of body positivity but in my eyes I felt like it leaned more towards the first world romance problems rather than Liv’s own character development.

Olivia isn't perfect and she messes up (a lot), as do the other characters. However, I didn't really like Liv's motivations personally, she just seemed so hard wired into the problems of her romance life and expects everything to revolve around that? Again, I didn't finish this so perhaps she does develop more but up to the point that I read... I wasn't present in the story anymore.

Especially when I read the Israeli/Palestinian joke that other people were talking about, I didn't want to force myself through the rest of it. Which to be honest could be triggering to people and just contributes to the stigma that we have been trying to get rid of.

At the end of the day, it's a story about finding confidence in yourself. It was also very vocal about sex positivity which was a nice touch. There were parts that were entertaining and I see why people enjoy it... it just wasn't sold to me and the reasons that I read this book for weren't as prevalent as I thought they would be.


We love love-squares ♡♡♡♡ love-triangles are so overrated... give me pentagons, hexagons, and all the other polygons


Booktuber books always make me so curious so I got really excited when I saw this in my inbox.

Oh and it's also an #ownvoices novel so there's that :)

instagram | blog | ko-fi | booksirens
Profile Image for Eshal Manha.
6 reviews2 followers
April 18, 2019
I am so concerned with this book. The cultural appropriation here is staggering. It seeks to rewrite history, reframing one of the first sympathetic North African / Middle Eastern figures in the western canon as a Sub-Saharan African.

Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of history or Shakespeare will know that Othello was a Moor – and not a sub-Saharan African as Ms Simone insinuates when the book’s main character thinks: “Shakespeare was an old white dude who didn’t know shit about black people and even less about women”.

Othello was not black by today’s definitions and any attempt to rewrite him as such is extremely racist. I hope Francina considers her approach to this very carefully when trying to align Othello with black culture and black history. If that is the case, she’s stealing it from Middle Eastern and North African culture for her own benefit.

Stay in your lane.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,045 reviews3,440 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
September 26, 2020
DNF at 38%

*sigh* I really wanted to love this. I love the idea of an Othello retelling and I like Francina's content as a YouTuber. Unfortunately this really wasn't for me, and there were a few things I was uncomfortable with. So....some thoughts.


- It's about a girl trying to find confidence to try new things.

- It's sex positive

The "It Depends!"

- It's a very voicy book and Olivia is a strong flavor of character. She's not necessarily likable (self-centered, can be a jerk, doesn't communicate well how she's feeling) but will probably be relatable for some actual teenagers. I'm so far past that part of my life that at this point, I really need something else hooking me to enjoy that kind of story. And this is all about Olivia.

- I think this book is aiming to be body positive and move Olivia toward accepting and loving her body. BUT there is a lot of negative body talk from her mom and others in her life, not to mention self-talk along the way. So, I like that it's centering a heroine with a larger body and characters who are Black and Brown, but do be aware going in.

- There's a scene suggesting the friends of Olivia's parents might be having an affair. And that felt gross and a lot to drop on top of everything else. Others may not be bothered by this, but I kind of hate reading about infidelity, especially when I don't know it's coming. This may have been the last straw for me to decide I should just DNF.

The Bad

- There's a Hawaiian character named Kai who seems lovely, but there are cringeworthy comments and jokes made about him. How do we know he's Hawaiian? Olivia can tell because she's seen Moana so many times. Umm...... *Moana is NOT Hawaiian* And then Dre makes some gross jokes about him involving stereotypical Hawaiian things. Maybe because he was jealous, but it's not corrected or discussed as racist and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I know from reviews that Kai isn't who she ends up with, so it really makes him feel like a set piece for Olivia to use for attention in a way that isn't cool.

- Olivia apparently is usually only friends with boys and thinks a lot of nasty things about other young women. Maybe she learns from this, but being in her head with so much of that wasn't fun.

So....I think this book is not all bad and I think there are people who will enjoy and feel seen by it. I hope they do. Unfortunately it wasn't for me and I think better choices could have been made in the handling of Kai's character. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Blake the Book Eater.
853 reviews375 followers
November 14, 2020
This is the first contemporary book I’ve picked up in a LONG time and I LOVED it.

The characters were so real and vibrant that it honestly reminded me of the people I knew in high school. Olivia is a real, flawed, main character but her journey is just so compelling. She makes a “F*ck-It List” to try to come out of her shell more and then her life gets flipped on its head.

The romance in this book was just...wow. Messy is a understatement, honestly. But it felt real, and complicated and EXACTLY how teenagers are in real life. I was a very messy teen at one point so I very much related to Liv. But I changed and grew and so does she. I’ve been seeing lots of comment criticizing the characters but I don’t think they were meant to be bastions of perfection. They’re deeply flawed and that’s what make them so damn interesting!

This is a book that will have you tearing through the pages to find out what happened and there are so many “OH SHIT” moments to fill up an entire season of Netflix!

I enjoyed this book so so much. And now there’s going to be a sequel?! Sign me up :D

*bias alert: I know Francina, but knowing her really only spurred me to pick it up, and has no influence on what I thought of the book itself*

Profile Image for Shijia.
475 reviews15 followers
October 16, 2020
Wow, it's 2020 and problematic trash like this is still being published? From the excerpts I've read, I will not be wasting my time reading from an author who writes to suit her own needs!!

dehumanising Palestinians and Hawaiians while claiming to 'uplift the world'???

you are trash bye
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,171 reviews251 followers
September 4, 2020
This was a fun and messy story about growing up, finding confidence in yourself, and living life to your fullest - mistakes and all.

Liv James is determined to burst out of her comfortable and unseen bubble. To say yes to whatever life throws at her - or to at least take a minute before saying no. So Liv, with her two best friends, who she might be developing feelings for, all decide to go out for the school play. And with the drama department comes drama, obviously.

I thought that Smash It! was surprisingly honest and real. From my own experience, it's one of the most honest and realistic depictions of teenagers. They're messy, uninformed, dramatic, opinionated, emotional and a million other things at once, and I felt like the characters of Smash IT! reflected that.

This was a great story about friendship, family, support, and expression. I really loved how complex Liv and the other characters were; they simultaneously were sure they knew everything and certain they were clueless, were ready to support their friends but couldn't see their own potential, freely (or sometimes secretly) loved each other and fear that it would never be returned. Smash It! is an honest look at growing up and all the insecurities that come with it.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Melanie (mells_view).
1,710 reviews331 followers
August 25, 2020
Smash It! is a mature YA novel that has a bold character voice, and a unfiltered look at the high school experience of protagonist Liv. She’s a Black teenager in a mostly white school just trying to find confidence in her voice and in her look. She’s awkward and uncomfortable at first, but she has so much to give that she’s hiding from the majority of the world. She has two best friends, Dré and Elijah, a sister, and a mother who is insanely hard on her.

This book is also sold as an Othello retelling, and I guess it is but they also recreate the story for their school musical. So it’s interesting to see it play out as a story within the story and as an influence on the actual story. With all that said, overall I enjoyed this story. I like that the author really showed a confidence growth with Liv. Sort of learning to love the parts of you that you dislike, opening up, and saying “yes” when you’d normally say no. I also liked that she didn’t make Liv perfect. She was an imperfect character, so that also highlighted her growth and by the end she still had her flaws and it felt insanely real. Like why do we demand people in fiction be perfect, when that isn’t always the case. I also appreciated that this story was sex positive, and was a take that didn’t pull punches when it came to sex and different types of love.

My only issues with this story is that there are some instances of problematic jokes and dialogue. I think that they are purposeful at times, and that it makes it feel real, but I can’t say that some of the jokes or harmful comments didn’t make me cringe. I wish maybe more of a focus had been put on calling out the harmful dialogue/comments in the story.

All in all a good read. I’d be interested to read more from this author, because I do enjoy her no holds barred writing style.

Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 21 books375 followers
May 30, 2020
Thanks to HarperCollins for providing a digital ARC of Smash It! in exchange for an honest review.

Disclaimer: I'm a shakespeare nerd. Second Disclaimer: I'm kind of a theatre kid.
Third Disclaimer: One of my favourite musicals (Venice) is a musical version of Othello.

An #ownvoices book about social issues, high school, and an Othello musical? The dream. Except for one rather large problem: Olivia drove me insane.

This is a character heavy story and yes, I get Olivia is supposed to be a flawed because retelling, but she's just kind of awful. Olivia honestly probably has the smallest problems of everyone in this book but she expects them to drop everything to deal with her high school romance drama and it makes her feel so unbelievably self centered (see scene where someone close to her comes out, Olivia says she's always known so responds with the equivilant of "no sh*t sherlock" and acknowledges it was a bad response then INSTANTLY goes "wah, here's my drama). She's also the kind of character who "omg if I was gay I'd have a crush on you"s and "this is why I don't have female friends! So much drama!"s and I just could not make myself care about her. She apologizes at the end but its more a blanket "I'm sorry" so everyone can instantly forgive her and it just felt unsatisfying over all.
Profile Image for Kai the Gemini.
80 reviews11 followers
August 14, 2020
Thank you NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

And honestly, I don't know why I keep getting my hopes up over booktuber YA Lit. I have yet to be impressed with one and while I hoped this would be different, it's clearly not the case. Liv as a protagonist is hard to root for. Like many other reviewers noted, her Year of Yes (as Miss Shonda would call it) results in her being a dick to all her friends and the people around it. This is very much an older-YA self-insert book and while I enjoyed how relatable the language of the characters were (definitely sounded like a black girl from Florida), the 2.5 went down to a 2 after some really gross insensitive comments and microaggressions.

The Israel/Palestinean relationship comment seemed really out of place (holy war? really?), and was then followed by some pretty gross anti-Hawaiian comments. See, I myself and black and kanaka maoli, or native Hawaiian. I really hope that by some miracle these get edited before the publishing date, but my hopes are not high. The allegory to Othello was rather sloppily shoehorned in at the end.

I was excited for this #ownvoices 2020 debut but sadly, there are many others that you will be better off reading at this time.
Profile Image for Laura Steven.
Author 10 books490 followers
April 18, 2019
Francina Simone is ridiculously talented and this book is EVERYTHING
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,709 reviews701 followers
September 26, 2020
Seeing the varying reviews for this book, I went into it not knowing what to expect.

I liked Olivia. She’s a good person who is trying to find her place and I fully expected her to make mistakes. Her BFFs were charming and annoying boys who made me laugh and cringe. I loved the relationship between Liv, Lennox, and Jackie and those scenes were some of my favorites.

Plot wise, it was okay. The story is basically told as a running inner monologue and I could have done with more showing, rather than telling. I didn’t see the crush slash chemistry slash love with any of the boys and found myself skimming sections.

Overall, it had some great character growth. I loved the sex positivity and the idea of trying the things that scare you. And while I did mostly enjoy the story, there were parts that felt stale and a bit boring.

**Huge thanks to Inkyard Press for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Tanya Tate.
227 reviews112 followers
Want to read
February 10, 2020
I love Francina Simone on youtube so I can't wait to read this! I know she was teasing about it on her videos for a while.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,563 reviews259 followers
August 29, 2020
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Smash It! (Smash It! #1) by Francina Simone sounds like it has so much potential. I mean, it's marketed as a YA inspired by Othello and that was intriguing enough. I also admired the three main things on Olivia's list. Of course, as things change in her life, she makes mistakes as she's a flawed figure. In the end, I didn't know quite what to make of this novel and for awhile I was on the fence between giving this two or three stars and I decided on the lower of the two. The longer the novel went on, the less interested I found myself in Olivia and everything that's going on in her life, good or bad. Overall, this book isn't for me, and I totally felt like a senior citizen while reading parts of this. I also have a feeling the story may perhaps have held my attention more if I had listened to an audiobook production of it.
Profile Image for eveltrain.
189 reviews2 followers
April 18, 2020
I read an ARC on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was intrigued by a modern YA taking on Othello. The juxtaposition of Olivia's story with Othello never quite clicks. We are hammered over the head with how Othello fits into Olivia's tale late in the novel. I wanted to see it and not be told it. That's what kept me turning the pages. Any play could have been used as it never comes together.

We're also hammered with how sexually liberated Olivia is because Olivia keeps telling us she is. Let the reader decide what Olivia is.

This novel works so hard to smash stereotypes, it actually ends up creating them. I'm tired of female characters calling each other 'bitch'. I'm also weary of females who think talking about their vaginas is empowerment.

Many issues are glossed over. Domestic abuse is a family matter. It's implied that it's cultural. A person has anger issues and those are ignored. The problems with Othello aren't fleshed out. The N-word is used and the issues with it are briefly mentioned - and again, we're told what to think. The F-word is overused - just like real teenagers overuse it.

Olivia's quest to get more out of life and where that leads her intrigued me but fell short. Characters are diverse.

I look forward to reading more from Francina Simone. Her teens talk and act like teens I've met. I just wish the characters were allowed to live and breathe and not tell us who and what they are so literally. And, if you are going to take on Othello, you really need to smash it!
Profile Image for Isabel ✰ 	.
478 reviews29 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
September 16, 2020
Yeahhhhh...there was a lot of weird stuff in here but I stopped reading once I got to:

"You didn't tell me you live next door to Exotic Mulatto."
"That is so rude. His parents are Israeli and Palestinian."
"Damn. I'd let him holy war up in me."

I don't think a book can or should come back from shit like that. I don't care that it isn't the main character saying it or that she "[doesn't] even try to explain to her how fucked up that is." The book absolutely lets that slide without addressing it in the slightest and I'm done.
Profile Image for Rachel | All the RAD Reads.
995 reviews1,080 followers
July 25, 2020
I thoroughly enjoyed this one -- a coming-of-age story about a Black girl inspired by the "year of yes" Shonda Rimes did to create her own "year of f--- it". It's cute, it has a great diverse cast of characters, it isn't all just fluff, there's some great love triangle/square action going on, and it had such a sweet ending.

A winner of a YA book! (pub date 9/22!)
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,433 reviews234 followers
September 21, 2020
Liv had been pining away for her best friend and allowing her insecurities to keep her from new experiences. Fed up with missing out on so many possibilities, she took a vow to say "YES". This new philosophy won her a part in the school play, some new friends, and a possible boyfriend, but saying "YES" also came with some bad decisions, which might result in the end of her longest friendship.

I read Othello a very, VERY long time ago for school, and never really looked back. Therefore, I did not find myself looking for the parallels in this loose retelling. What I did find was an entertaining story of a young women who took some chances, made a few mistakes, and learned several life lessons along the way.

Five Things I Really Enjoyed about SMASH IT!

1. Olivia was fabulous! I found her to be a very open and honest narrator, while also being extremely amusing. I related to her fears and was proud of all the chances she took. Yes, I did wince at some of her missteps, though she learned and grew from each blunder. She recognized when she was wrong and attempted to correct her errors, and growth is always a good thing.

2. There was romance in this book, but the biggest love story was about Olivia learning to love herself. She was insecure about her size and how she looked. She was always being compared to her cousin and wondering why the boy she adored wasn't interested in her. This lack of self love was a big obstacle for Olivia. It was one the main things, which kept her from stretching her wings. It was great to see her gain that self confidence and shed her need to blend in, thus allowing herself to finally shine.

3. This book was very sex-positive. One of the storylines revolved around Olivia wanting to have sex for the first time. There were open discussions about intimacy, and I appreciated that different points of views regarding sex were presented. The idea that what was right differed for each person, and at the same time, no view was wrong.

4. There were some great friendships in this book. When I first met Olivia, the trio of her, Dre, and Eli was strong. They had been friends for many years and their memories of one another ran deep. But what I really loved was the friendship that developed between Olivia, Jackie, and Lennox. This was women supporting women, and it was great seeing that in this story. There was also an adorable relationship between Olivia and her senior citizen co-worker, which was super cute while also quite meaningful.

5. So much delicious drama. I was reading this book at the right moment, because I ate up all that drama. Sometimes it might have seemed over the top, but I was into it, and it kept me flipping those pages.

Even though I have a thing about awkward love triangles, I found I really enjoyed this book. I think I was in the mood for some drama, and there was lots to be found here. I also liked the overarching themes, the idea of being more honest, trying new things, seeing the possibilities, and learning to love yourself.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Jessica Haider.
1,791 reviews241 followers
November 3, 2020
Smash It! is a modern day reimagining of Shakespeare's Othello set at a Florida high school. It all starts at a Halloween party, where Olivia realizes she just kind of lets life happen to her and that she isn't going for stuff and putting herself out there. She mostly just hangs out with her two best friends Eli and Dre and doesn't really have any female friends. She's also been secretly in love with Eli for awhile. After a few comments from people at the Halloween party, Olivia decides to make a F*ck It List about things she is going to change. One of her decisions is to stop being so shy and try out for the school's production of Othello the Musical.

This was a fun read and Olivia was a likable character that while she does make some mistakes along the way in the end, she redeems herself.

What to listen to while reading...
Everything is Everything by Ms. Lauryn Hill
I'm Coming Out by Diana Ross
Q.U.E.E.N. by Janelle Monae
Teenage Love Affair by Alicia Keyes
Good as Hell by Lizzo
Make it Better by Anderson. Paak
You Gotta Be by Des'ree

I won a copy of this book in a goodreads giveaway!
Profile Image for Heather Freeman.
134 reviews2 followers
August 31, 2020
I am torn about this book, as parts of it are very fun and engaging, parts of it provide needed commentary on trauma and misogyny/slut-shaming, but parts of it are, as many reviewers before me have noted, very problematic and borderline racist. This problem comes particularly to the foreground with the character of Kai, a Hawaiian senior that main character Liv is immediately drawn to. But he's described in fetishizing, exoticizing, and massively stereotypical terms by Liv herself as well as her friends. Liv sometimes is uncomfortable with how her friends refer to both Kai and her best friend Eli (whose Israeli/Palestinian heritage is the butt of some very not-great jokes), but she never says anything, and she herself perpetuates these narrative microagressions on more than one occasion. Moreover, these friends are mostly featured as great, fun, and funny characters, so the 'jokes' seem to stand. Again, this book had really fun moments, but it was marred by these issues. (I also wasn't a fan of the fairly didactic breakdown of how the book paralleled Othello at the end, but this was a more minor quibble.)
Profile Image for Laurie.
Author 20 books3,391 followers
October 25, 2020
I rarely tear through a book in a day, but I could not stop reading this boldly authentic, hilariously funny (outrageously and brilliantly so), deeply poignant and surprisingly honest book about the confusing, exciting, painful, hormone-charged, beautiful and brave teenage experience (including biting social commentary and an honest look at the imperfect/supportive/cruel/kind ways that actual teenagers relate to each other - not the sanitized version - which makes the underlying themes all the more powerful). This, my friends, is one of the best books I've ever read. On the surface its a wildly entertaining story about teenaged Liv who decides to draw up a "F**ck It" list to get past her social anxiety and say yes to all the things she wants to experience (signing up for her high school's play, going on a date, having sex, etc.). The dialogue is some of the smartest, wittiest I've ever read (better than some of the contemporary YA greats - really, the book is that good) and the romances are delightfully swoony (and quite sexy) as Liv finds herself crushing on BOTH of her best friends as well as one of the play's swoony stars (every last character in this book is so well drawn, including the hilariously cranky drama teacher, that I felt attached to pretty much all of them by the end). But underneath all the fun (and this book is a lot of fun) are deep messages about the importance of lifting yourself up, even if others try to break you down, so that you can live boldly and lovingly (and uplift others in turn). This novel also tackles the need to stop slut-shaming young women in such a deeply nuanced, body-positive, sex-celebratory (and upliftingly kind) way, I'll be thinking about the messages of this story for a long time to come (and really wishing teenaged me had possessed a copy of it). My highest recommendation. #TeamLennox and #TeamJackie - I am so glad young women are taking on some of this toxic stuff, fists raised, voices loud and bold. Standing ovation, Francina Simone.
February 23, 2020
Author, Francina Simone, has done a great job of describing the complexities that make up the live of female young adults in todays society. I was very impressed with all the topics she was able to address, body positivity and acceptance, dating, sex, friendships, affairs, being too black or not black enough, etc.

I quickly fell in love with the main character and saw so much of my teenage self reflected in this character. Heck, even at my age I still wish I could take a F*** it approach to life. I also fell in love with several of the supporting characters (most of diverse cultures and ethnicities and races!), specially Lennox and Jackie. My heart was constantly aching but I was also constantly laughing. How I wish I had this book when I was a teen!

I highly recommend this book for young adult females especially those struggling to accept themselves as they are. Heck, anyone looking for a book that shows the journey of learning to love themselves should read this book.
Profile Image for Adaline McMillan.
Author 4 books4 followers
February 22, 2020
I got an ARC of this book and my goodness! This book was refreshing, hilarious, and so so real. I never knew what was going to come around the next corner. It kept me on my toes, and I was immediately wrapped up in this wonderful story that the author has created as it was so realistic. It was a whole different YA experience -- one that other YA authors should strive to meet. Wonderful read, and I completely recommend it to someone who wants something that's exciting and fresh.
February 23, 2020
Thank you to NetGalley, InkYard press and Francina Simone for the early copy of the ebook in exchange for and honest review.

This book was so fun to read! I tend to lean more towards YA fantasy than YA fiction but this book kind of blew me away. Liv was a dynamic character that I couldn't help loving from the moment she walked into a Halloween party in Florida in a hoodie to the last page. While I didn't love the body shaming that happened or her shame for her body rather I did totally love that she started off shy and uncertain just coasting along and learned to grow and find what she loved. Did she make mistakes along the way? Yes she certainly did and I loved it. We all make mistakes as we learn to grow. I loved that authenticity in the book.

Loved the writing mostly because I felt like I was really in the mind of a 17 year old girl. The insecurities, the selfishness of being 17, the juvenile thought processes were all there and I enjoyed that realness in it. I certainly found it annoying at times because I am in my 30's and find all teenagers a little bit annoying but I appreciate that. Being able to bring characters to life like that is one of my favorite things an author can do. Liv's friends Eli and Dré were great as well, unique and fleshed out, and when we meet Lennox and Jackie they bring this other truly fantastic layer to the story and to Liv.

For the most part I was super sucked into the story and couldn't put the book down but there were small parts that I felt were extra and didn't really need to be there. Liv's body shame at the beginning was unnecessary and a bummer because I was hoping to finally read a curvy character that loved her body with no internal battle about it and no need to have others validate her. And since that part kind of disappeared it felt totally unneeded for the plot. Dré's arrest was 100% unneeded for the story and felt shoved in there for no reason than perhaps a dramatic gasp. And the Angelina drama felt unfinished and so fit in kind of awkwardly. I either wanted it to be more of a story arc or taken out altogether. But all of these are pretty small things I disliked and didn't take too much away from the story as a whole for me.

All in all I am giving this book 4.5/5 tiny hats and recommending it if you want an awesome story about a young girl learning to find the things that make her happy and finally step into the light.
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