CHECK ME OUT, by Becca Wilhite, Shadow Mountain, Feb. 6, 2018, Softcover, $15.99 (young adult/new adult/adult)
With books and a library serving as the backdrop of Check Me Out, it’s immediately obvious that it came about as a labor of love for author Becca Wilhite.
Check Me Out stars Greta, assistant librarian and lover of all things literary. Greta is on the hunt for the perfect man, and she’s enlisted her best friend Will, the high school civics teacher and debate coach to help make that happen.
Every year, Greta’s birthday wish demands get a little more complicated, but this year, Will has risen to the occasion. Enter Mac. His face is “almost too perfect to be real,” and he’s into poetry. Score!
Mac works at the local coffee shop, and makes a mean hot chocolate. He showers Greta with thoughtful gifts and his conversations via text messages are swoon-worthy. He’s the complete package. Or so Greta thinks. Conversations in person have Greta questioning if she’s talking to the same person.
When the City Council suggests it’s time to close Franklin Library, Greta immediately leads the battle to save it. It’s exhausting work, and Greta needs all the help she can get. In the end, though, she realizes it’s Will, not Mac, who’s always there to lean on.
Check Me Out is part of Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance Contemporary line, and it’s not bad. It’s just not great either. Instead, it falls into — as the title suggests — the “check it from the library before you buy” category.
More than once I struggled with Greta’s character. As you might have already guessed, there’s a bit of Cyrano de Bergerac going on here. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. Greta is supposedly a smart, independent woman, but when she meets Mac, it’s like all her brain cells ooze out her ears. She can’t hold an in-person conversation with the guy, but she’s willing to look past that for a few schmaltzy text messages.
Mac is completely one-note. He feels more like a prop than a person. Will, on the other hand, is smart and funny. He’s the stereotypical fat best friend that everyone loves but isn’t romantic material. I wish the author had explored more on the Will front — introducing alternating perspectives could have added much-needed depth.
While it may sound like I have nothing but complaints about Check Me Out, that’s far from the truth. Becca Wilhite’s writing is warm and inviting, and her passion for libraries rings true throughout. Check Me Out is perfect for curling up. It’s fast, clean and enjoyable.
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