**Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing me a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
I adored Sandy Hall’s debut A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT when I read it last year. It was a sweet romance and clever in that it told its story from every perspective save the romantic couple’s — I actually think that’s a pretty gutsy move, given you’ve got to work all the harder to make the reader care about the romance. Not only that, but how many authors decide to tell the perspective of a campus bench, or the squirrel fed granola bar pieces by the female “protagonist”? Again, clever and, in the end, lovely.
SIGNS POINT TO YES, in comparison, is more straightforward in its narrative style. We follow the perspectives of the two primary romantic players, neighbours Jane and Teo, as well as that of Jane’s sister, Margo. They are all clear, well-defined internal voices and the switches in POV are balanced and easy to follow. My only criticism would be that Margo’s inclusion felt almost forced at times, which was a shame because I really appreciated her more-grounded and level-headed perspective. She balances out the tumult of Jane and Teo’s story, but it’s awkward and clunky at times.
Jane is a fun personality and is the kind of character that will appeal to many a reader — so many of us are involved in one fandom or another, so her various fictional loves will feel familiar. In my case, that was my empathetic grounding point with Jane because, while I couldn’t necessarily empathize with her overhanging fears — though I could sympathize — I could definitely connect with her relationship with her various fandoms. It was charming and it felt natural.
I found Teo, of all the POV’s, the most successful. His frustration with his stepfather and his mother, all the while searching for his birth father in a quest for closure, is heartfelt and poignant. He expresses all the teenage angst that comes from this situation in the way that I’m sure many teenagers would: he’s basically terrible at verbally expressing it. Instead, he represses it; he keeps it all very secret. He feels he cannot talk openly with his mother about this, and while I did find that sad, I also understood why he felt that way. His mother isn’t a villain and she loves him very much, but it’s also clear that Teo has been harbouring some serious hurt that he hasn’t verbalized for so long that now he’s not even sure how to do so.
One of Teo’s greatest moments, for me, comes after he has a blow-up at Jane. Without giving away any spoilers, he manages to not only man up and apologize, but admit that while he was angry with Jane, most of his (very) bad reaction was angry hurt at his birth father that he projected onto Jane. It’s hard for him to admit, but he’s mature about it. A similar scene with his mother, also filled with some hard truths and emotional confessions, was another emotion highlight of this novel.
If I have one major criticism of the novel it’s the side-characters, namely Ravi, Teo’s best friend who also happens to hate Jane with a virulent passion. He’s rude and downright cruel to the point of being insufferable, and when we learn his reasons for disliking Jane, instead of softening towards him, I disliked him even more. I’m sure there are readers who may like him, but I found him incredibly selfish and just downright shallow. I could have done without him, or at least with him being more fleshed out.
But that’s it because, frankly, this is just a sweet romance. It’s quick, cute, and just a lovely little bit of reading that put a smile on my face.