Marisol Gutierrez travels to the U.S. to pitch their nonprofit at a grant conference. The competition is stiff, Marisol is not usually the organization’s spokesperson, and she is especially nervous to do it all in her second language of English, but has stepped in at the last minute and is determined to do well. The future of the organisation depends on getting this grant and the pressure overwhelms Marisol, stealing her of her usual joy and plunging her into a permanent state of panic.
Since she’s in L.A. a few days before she has to begin the conference, she decides to try to attend a taping of her favorite show, a Price is Right-esque competition show. For a whole lot of reasons and plot contrivances, she ends up at the taping and as a guest on a late night chat show instead. For whatever reason, the dude she’s interacting with, whom she knows as Wristband Boy, puts her at ease and her normal personality shines through. Overnight, she’s a viral sensation.
The rest of the book is a madcap journey back and forth from the conference to that late night show, as Marisol and Wristband Boy (real name: Evan), become Internet stars. There’s a bit of the classic fake-romance-becomes-real-romance trope in here, as well as some great catnip for process nerds like myself with behind-the-scenes stuff of both the TV show and the world of nonprofit grants.
Marisol and Evan feel like real people, making decisions that real people would make in these lives they’re living. Marisol, for example, is diabetic, and the process of checking her insulin is both central to who she is and a complete afterthought, in the way it would be for anyone who lives with diabetes. Evan’s Midwestern dreams of Hollywood stardom are a tried and tested trope, but his earnestness makes it work. I loved how their passions and skills blended at the end to save the day. Plus, if Marisol’s non-profit was real, it would get money from me for sure.
I’m not sure I buy that these kids will live happily ever after (super different worlds, both culturally and professionally), but the happily for now that happens in the epilogue was enough to make me sigh happy book noises and look forward to the next installment in this world.