5-Star Review: Top Ten by Katie Cotugno
Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship: 10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met. 9. Then there was our awkward phase. 8. When you were in love with me but never told me… 7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life. 6. Through terrible fights… 5. And emotional makeups. 4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken. 3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it. 2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world. 1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?
This is one of those books that I like more the more I think about it. This is another I plowed through within a day, I could not put it down. After I first finished it, I thought "that's a solid 4," but the more I think about it, the more I realize it will most likely make my top 10 of the year.
There is *so much* to recommend Top Ten. For starters, its great and unique format. It's told in dual POV from Ryan and Gabby (and yes, both have very distinct voices) starting the day they finally stop tiptoeing around it and have a disastrous hookup. What follows is the top 10 moments in their friendship over the years. Some of these moments are sweet, some are ugly fights, but they all do an awesome job of painting this relationship between two very dissimilar people. (For the most part the plot is linear, but there are some interesting time jumps to be on the lookout for.) Do I necessarily care about the order of them? No, but I love the book's focus on those moments.
I also love the representation in this novel. Gabby is bi, and is open to her friends or family. She's also an artist, and struggles to overcome her anxiety to share her photography with the world. Ryan is a talented hockey player, a bit of a doofus, but sweet and struggling to make his family proud and desperate to make a future for himself. They feel so real, and both hit close to home for me--and, I think, they will for other readers as well.
This novel made me laugh, it made me cry, it got me in all the feels. It's a tender true portrait of those fierce friendships, of those but-what-if-its-more moments in certain relationships, and ultimately about how we really can find ourselves in the friendships we make.
Should you read it? If you love contemporary friends-to-more stories with a super nostalgic heart, Top Ten is for you.
*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.*
Expected Publication October 3, 2017 by Balzer + Bray