Hill, Kaitlyn. Not Here to Stay Friends. 352 pp. Delacorte, 2023. ISBN 978-0593483701 $12.99
Another reality television show themed novel from Hill. Sloane’s bestie from way back, Liam, moved from Tennessee to Hollywood when his parents got divorced, and the two friends have kept in touch over the passing years and finally get to spend some time together again and bond over stuff like their favorite teen dramas when he invites her to visit for the summer. It turns out that Liam is going to be interning on his dad’s latest project: a Bachelor-style show to find the next leading lady for heartthrob Aspen Wood, and the only way to hope to spend some time together is for Sloane to participate in the show by filling in the abandoned slot left by a no show contestant. An aspiring writer, Liam’s dad sweetens the pot by promising connections if Sloane can make it to the final four. Sloane’s parents are disappointingly quick to sign her over to this TV gig without even a check in, much to her chagrin.
The instant attraction at the airport pickup that neither Sloane or Liam has the guts to discuss, much less act on, throws a monkey wrench into the plot when Aspen asks Liam to help him win Sloane over–her low opinion of his shallowness is no secret. He agrees, and when Sloane finds out, she’s pretty upset. Will they work things out?
Lots of drama ensues, but it’s pretty watered down for tween readers. Like in Love from Scratch, the romantic parts are mostly longing, a sweet kiss or two, and overall pretty tame. The title is a very clever play on words–does it refer to Liam and Sloane’s relationship, or her spot on AWFLL (Aspen Woods Future Leading Lady)? Liam’s woodworking hobby that he wants to turn into a career is a nice side story that allows him to confront his dad, find a mentor, and make a beautiful grand gesture to Sloane.
I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #NotHeretoStayFriends from #NetGalley.