Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: October 21, 2016
Format: eBook, 371 pages
How I got it: I bought it!
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.
In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.
It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…
And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.
Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.
We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?
Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?
F*ck it. I need to meet her.
I just don’t expect to hate what I find.
He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.
Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.
He could be gone forever.
Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.
Punk 57 has been sitting on my iPad, just waiting for me to open it, since it was released last October. I so should’ve done it before now, but books I buy have a way of getting lost in the ARC shuffle, so I was really happy when it was selected as the winner of My TBR List poll for January 2017. Once I picked it up, I literally couldn’t put it down. It became a day-long obsession that just happened to coincide with a sick day, so I was lucky I could read uninterrupted.
Everything about Punk 57 screamed my name. It hit so many tropes I enjoy — friends first, second chance (of sorts), love/hate — but did it in a totally unique way, as I’ve come to expect from Penelope’s books. My first of her books, years ago, was Bully. I was captivated by it because of the characters and their growth, and not necessarily because I “liked” them. The same could be said for Punk 57. At times, it had a similar vibe to Bully in that respect and I loved it. I spend so much time reading books with characters I love or relate to, and not with those are flawed and who grow before my eyes, so it’s refreshing when I do.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the plot here. Boy and girl are pen pals growing up and have never met in person, even though they live not TOO far away from each other. One day, boy stops responding to girl’s letters. Girl keeps writing. Boy shows up at new school and meets girl, but girl doesn’t know it’s her childhood friend. Boy thinks girl is a jerk who treats other people poorly just to be popular. Boy doesn’t like it, but he’s still drawn to her… and her to him. AND GO.
Ryen and Misha/Masen weren’t characters I liked from page one. In fact, sometimes I downright disliked them. Ok, mostly Ryen, if I’m being honest. I knew the secrets “Masen” was keeping since I was treated to both of their POVs in the book, so I mostly gave him a pass. I might not have understood why he was at Ryen’s school at first, but I did get why he was keeping his true identity a secret. I didn’t totally understand or appreciate why Ryen acted the way that she did. She spent a large part of the book being a mean girl who, quite frankly, wasn’t very nice to other people. I don’t have a lot of time for bullies. She had some growing up to do and I was pleased with how she did. She became herself (again) instead of this popular girl who didn’t care who she hurt or humiliated if it got her some attention.
As flawed as these two were, together they were golden. The chemistry that started with their letters was obvious when they were face-to-face, even though Ryen didn’t know Masen’s true identity. The love/hate trope is one of my favorites, so that really did it for me here. I loved how these two pushed each other’s buttons at first. I liked how Masen pushed Ryen. He didn’t do it to be cruel, he did it to see if the girl he knew (and loved) was in there somewhere. He helped her find her way back to herself, if that makes sense. As things built between them, the sexual tension was CRAZY. (And then it only got hotter from there.)
I hate to say I was surprised by how much I loved this book, but I was. I was totally obsessed with the story, stuck between wanting to rush through it and savor every word. Before it was all said and done, I was totally in love with both of these characters and I hoped secrets wouldn’t keep them apart. I was surprised by some of the things that happened in the book and that doesn’t often happen for me. I do love me a good twist (or two). It’s also worth mentioning I was *really* excited at a couple of the cameos in Punk 57. I’m not going to tell you any more than that, but if you’ve read all of Penelope’s books, you might recognize a couple of the characters that pop up in this book.
Bottom line, Punk 57 was fantastic. It’s easily one of my favorite of Penelope’s books. It had everything — feels, angst, romance. I loved the way art and expression — from the song lyrics to letters to graffiti messages — were woven into the story. If you’ve not read this one yet, don’t wait. Bump it up on your TBR. You won’t be sorry.
When I found out she was popular, not an outcast, and a cardboard cut-out, not at all original, I became angry. She led me to believe those things, and my muse was a lie.
Don’t change, Ryen wrote in a letter once. There’s no one like you, and I can’t love you if you stop being you.
Eventually we all have to weigh what we want more: wanting back what we had or wanting what could be. To stay or to risk everything to move forward.
I kiss her fast, moving over her mouth hard and strong, because I feel like eating, and she’s the only food I want.
“I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want anyone else. I only think about you. I think about you all the time, Ryen.”
“You’re not boring. You’re not average, and you’re not stuck-up. You piss me off, but you excite me.”
“We’re all ugly, Ryen. The only difference is, some hid it and some wear it.”
Have you read this book?
What’d you think?