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A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  2,299 ratings  ·  276 reviews
For months, Cass Meyer has heard her best friend Julia, a wannabe Broadway composer, whispering about a top-secret project. Then Julia is killed in a sudden car accident, and while Cass is still reeling from her death, Julia’s boyfriend and her other drama friends make it their mission to bring to fruition the nearly-completed secret project: a musical about an orphaned ni ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 10th 2010 by Dial Books
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  2,299 ratings  ·  276 reviews

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prag ♻
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
hi this is my favorite book in this entire universe this is a PSA for everyone to read it

proper!! full!! review to come (one day) but for now just know that no other book affected me so much i have literally never related to a protagonist like this

things it includes but is not limited to:
• lesbian romance
• bike trip across the country
• sixteen year olds putting on a musical and causing general mishaps
• unrequited love
• orange nailpolish
• a girlfriend in oklahoma
• music outside the window at midn
I have to admit, I'm always a little wary of LGBTQ YA published prior to 2014 or so, because most of what I've read from that time is qualitatively not that great, and generally the books that are see the authors continuing to write to this day. But as far as I know, this is Horner's only book, and not gonna lie, my expectations were not super high. But I think I would've liked this book a lot even if they'd been higher. Now I'm mad at myself for not reading this earlier, because it's something ...more
3-1/2 stars, rounded up

Then: Cass spent her summer riding her bike from Chicago to California, ostensibly with the "purpose" of taking her best friend Julia's ashes to the Pacific, but really to have something to focus on other than her loss and loneliness.

Now: Cass is stuck in a basement with her middle school arch-enemy, Heather, while they work on sets and costumes for "Super Sweet Ninja Death Squad," the musical Julia had barely finished just before her death. Has Heather changed? Has Cass?
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Raina by: Sara
It took me a minute to warm up to this book.
It seemed a little TOO custom-written for me.
And I like to defy expectations.

But I read the last half in less than 24 hours.

The story flips between Then and Now. Then is a selection of memories of her friend, as well as of her cross-country bicycle trip to honor her friend. Now focuses on the production of Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad, the musical written by her friend, and her romance with another member of the team putting it on.

There are too m
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Don't you just hate it when a book you've been pining over for the last year or so ends up disappointing it you? Well, I do, and sadly enough that is what happened with A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend and me.

I've been looking forward to this book since it was titled Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad, a title I loved and still do, and after hearing the most amazing things about this, I was even more excited. So when the time came to read this, I couldn't wait to gobble it right up.

When Cass's best friend, Julia, dies, Cass decides to take her ashes across the country on bicycle, so they can be scattered at the ocean. She's gone off like this, by herself, because Julia's boyfriend has cast her middle school nemesis, Heather, as the star in the musical Julia wrote before her death. When she gets back from her trip, Cass starts helping produce the musical, and gets to know Heather much better.

I just loved this book. Cass and her friends are all engaging characters to me, esp
Dec 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Let me tell you what I liked about this book:
1. I suppose technically it's a coming out story but I didn't feel a whole lot of OMG MY LIFE IS OVER B/C I'M GAY meme
2. The main character has multiple complicated imperfect romantic plotlines going on. It's not just "I saw her and, reader, suddenly my whole world shifted and that's when I knew I was gay. I came out to my family and friends and hoo boy was that dramatic but nothing could stop the trueness of our love! There's no one else for me but h
Anita Pogorzelska
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. It was cute. And made you feel things. It was a quick read, but thoughtful, honest. Also sad, but you could really connect to the pain. A lot of books struggle with that, and this one did it well. All in all, it was a down-to-earth, feel-good kind of book. I would recommend. There are ninjas.
Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
It might not have been perfect, but I pretty much adored this book. Funny, touching, and relatable - this is one of the best YA debuts I've seen in a while. I'll mention the couple of (minor) problems I had: the letter at the beginning was cheesy and almost had me putting the book down; I'm not a huge fan of books that skip back and forth in time because it is extraordinarily difficult to do well enough that it actually benefits the story; the cross-country road trip was unrealistically free of ...more
Aug 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, glbtq, friendship
This is one of those books that I wish had come out a decade ago, because I could really have used it back then. I saw a lot myself and the people I knew in high school in this book, and I suspect it will resonate with a number of teenagers I know today. Don't get scared off by the beginning, which is sort of weird and irritating - the rest of the book is great.

Cass's best friend Julia dies in a car accident, and A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend follows Cass and her friends as they atte
Louise Tripp
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Now that I have finished the book, I am not sure my review can do it justice. There's a lot that I wanted to say and I wish I had written my thoughts down when I was reading it, but I didn't. I'll do my best, though. First, I want to say that this is not a perfectly polished, perfectly written book (I will not add "for a teen novel" or "for a YA novel" because there are a lot of extremely sophisticated, beautifully written books for teenagers out there and I, myself, hope to complete and publish ...more
Jill G.
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really want to give this one a 4.5. I felt genuinely moved at the end of this, which made me realize I hadn't felt genuinely moved by a book in quite a while. And by moved, I mean it Made Me Feel A Lot Of Things. And that's an important thing. So.

I was obviously more drawn to the trying-to-bike-across-the-country-with-your-best-friend-who-you-were-secretly-in-love-with's-ashes storyline, because who wouldn't be drawn to that storyline. But the Ninja Deathsquad storyline was helpful in having som
Allison Floyd
Dec 14, 2010 rated it did not like it

Disclaimer: if I hadn't already read Looking for Alaska, I might have had more patience with this book. As it stands, I have read Looking for Alaska, and Bridge to Terabithia, and plenty of other formulaic YA books that have made me realize that death is, like, heavy, dude, and it changes things, and it could happen to you, even if you're young. I get it, YA authors!

To be fair, I'm way outside the target age range, but I find that with the best of YA books, this doesn't seem to be an i
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Melody by: Sharyn November
The story of how a well-loved member of a crowd's death affects the crowd is not new, and I picked this up with a bit of trepidation. It was unwarranted. Horner's first novel is ably plotted and well-done. There were more than a few laugh-out-loud moments, and I liked the narrator very well. She was achingly believable and so adolescently stupid she could have stepped right off the page.

I loved the long-distance bicycle trip. I loved the growth in the characters throughout the story. I loved th
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really, really wanted to like this book, but it reminded me of how strongly I dislike theater people.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This book has an enormous amount of potential, which is the reason i didn’t give it 2 stars. I so wish the author had focused on the stronger parts of the story she was telling - the grieving, the journey, the questioning friendships, the sexual identity - instead of throwing another story into the mix that was unnecessary and distracting.
Lucy Wadelton
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was better than I expected. I sped through it and really enjoyed it. I think Heather was such an interesting love interest, and I seriously loved the enemies to lovers trope- can’t remember if I’ve ever come across that in WLW fiction.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
we love dead best friends and forgiving, sappy high school lesbians
Brontë Christopher
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is an ABSOLUTE TREASURE. The first two pages already had me deep in my emotions (I don't think a book has ever done that before), and after that beginning, the book never faltered. The prose flows wonderfully, never drawing attention to itself but delivering humor, sadness, love, angst, anger, confusion, and surprisingly complex and extremely thoughtful reflections on the worth of our relationships (romantic and otherwise), all while seamlessly immersing you in the voice of the teenage ...more
3.5 stars.

I hate when reading one book takes me a ridiculous amount of time-- in this case, over two weeks. It's not that A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend was bad or anything, it just didn't captivate me enough for me to sit down and read six chapters in a row.

This is about Cass, a high school girl from a Quaker family who is trying to recover from the death of her best friend, Julia. Making matters even worse is that she's not sure if she was in love with Julia. In short, the book trac
Jul 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2010, yaf, lgbtq
I was very skeptical about this book before I read it. This year I have read 3 books that included some sort of performance art to mark the climax of the story; and while they all served their purpose, the chosen event seems exhausted. I felt a little uneasy knowing that the original musical, Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad was the main event of this book. But, it turned out not to be, but actually so so much more.

I was only going to give A Love Story 4 stars because sometimes the dialogue felt
Jess - The Tales Compendium
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, debut
I really enjoyed A Love Story. It's about one girls quest to confront her grief and discover herself. It is a funny, touching, coming-of-age debut and while I wouldn't go so far as to say Cass is highly likeable, I do think teenagers will be able to relate to at least one of her struggles (including her alternative parents). The main themes are friendship, grief, relationships, self esteem, sexuality, growing up and... musicals!

Although Cass is a smart girl, she hasn't quite figured out who she
Shawn Towner
I feel dirty reading young adult fiction, but this book was listed in the Editor's Choice of the NYT book review, so I can use that to rationalize my intellectual downfall. The book is about an unpopular girl who is trying to honour her dead best friend's memory by putting on a play that she (the dead friend) wrote. That part of the novel I'm fine with. The topic of teenagers dealing with grief while still trying to be like teenagers is handled very well in the novel. Unfortunately, none of the ...more
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Originally posted at

Review: The summary of this book drew me in immediately and I thought I was going to be in for a fantastic read. Unfortunately, the story fell flat for me and I was left feeling disappointed.

Cass was a likable enough lead, but she just wasn’t distinctive enough to make a lasting impression on me. She could be very selfish at times, and had a real problem facing up to her issues. A lot of the story talked about how much Cass felt exclude
Celina Araujo
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
I feel dirty reading young adult fiction, but this book was listed in the Editor's Choice of the NYT book review, so I can use that to rationalize my intellectual downfall. The book is about an unpopular girl who is trying to honour her dead best friend's memory by putting on a play that she (the dead friend) wrote. That part of the novel I'm fine with. The topic of teenagers dealing with grief while still trying to be like teenagers is handled very well in the novel. Unfortunately, none of the ...more
Nov 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Horner weaves a tale of loyalty, love, and loss in this novel featuring Cass, who has recently endured the death of her best friend, Julia. Julia, who perished in a late night car accident in the rain, had long been the object of Cass's love, even though Cass does not realize her feelings until it is too late. While Julia's boyfriend, Oliver, and the rest of her drama friends band together to bring Julia's secret project- "Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad"- to the stage, Cass decides to honor Jul ...more
Cass is having a rough time. Her best (and possibly only) friend, Julia, was killed in a car accident. Now Julia's friends are putting on a musical that Julia wrote before her death. The problem: the female lead, Heather, is the same girl that terrorized Cass three years earlier by calling her a lesbian in front of the whole school. The story switches between Cass's journey by bicycle to take Julia's ashes to the Pacific, and her struggle to figure out her new relationship with Heather, all whil ...more
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
ANOTHER story about a teen dealing with the death of a friend? But I've already read Please Ignore Vera Dietz and Catch & Release and not to mention (not quite in the same category) If I Stay.

But as the cover tells you, this is more of a love story than an angsty downer. At first I wasn't so taken with the narrative style which seemed all over the place. But I kept going and the story won me over. The book is not a cliche. In any way, other than with its "Will the School Musical Come Together On
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“There was this girl,” I said. "l mean-” All of a sudden I felt flustered, and added, ”We were just friends.”

”No such thing.”
”We were.”

”Look. Despite what you may have heard, people have sex all the time with people they don't love, or particulary care about, or sometimes can't even stand. So why in the world do people say that it's just friends, like it doesn't mean as much, if you're not having sex? Real friendship is true and forever and with all your heart. It's not Relationship Lite.”
“We'd been twelve years old together. We'd shared the convictions that only twelve year olds can share, that love is simple and powerful and easy and inevitable.” 11 likes
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