Keeping the Distance is a YA romance set it in the Philippines, exploring one of my favorite tropes: hate to love. And it seems that the books in this genre just keep getting better and better. This one in particular had me giddy till the last page.
Set around Lance Ordonez and Melissa Ortiz falling in love in their senior year, this story is a lot more than meets the eye. Consequently, I’ve prepared a list of things that made me almost shriek with happiness:
- A richly layered story of love, friendship, and a healthy dose of teenage obsession.
- The usage of cheesy pickup lines on one another:
“They still had five minutes before the torture known as their Physics class started, so he pulled his chair closer to hers. “If you’re good in Algebra, can you substitute my X without asking Y?”
It was cheesy and completely ripped off some site he found online, but it was the best he could do on short notice.”
- Lance reminded me quite a bit of William from Skam, which meant that at first I had no warm feelings whatsoever… and kept thinking of this epic scene with Noora:
Mel even had a similar comeback:
“Now, why would I do that?”
“Because you obviously weren’t hugged enough as a child.”
He smirked. “You can hug me all you want to make up for it.”
But I gradually came to appreciate Lance when he got some needed character development. Or as he likes to put it:
“He wasn’t a bad guy.
He was—how should he put this?—a work-in-progress. ”
- So if you love Noora and William, you’ll for sure love Melissa with Lance. It’s Noora x William with the addition of pranking each other in the most hilarious way.
- THEIR PRANKS!! This part of the book made me crack up laughing. I mean, I ended up in literal tears when Mel superglued Lance to his seat:
“I’d love to, Mr. Rodriguez, but I can’t.” Lance tried to keep his voice even. He watched Melissa’s grip tighten on her pen, her knuckles turning white with exertion.
“And why not? Can’t you grace us mere mortals with your presence?” Mr. Rodriguez raised his bushy eyebrows.
“Melissa’s beauty is binding me to my seat.”
It wasn’t that far from the truth.
Under other circumstances and with any other teacher, the class would’ve tittered with laughter by that point, but their Physics teacher was like some dark, pulsating thing that sucked joy out of the atmosphere.
No one even dared to smile.
“I’m not kidding.” Mr. Rodriguez said, narrowing his eyes. “Come here and answer this problem before I make you.”
He shook his head. “I can’t.”
“Well, then, I don’t have a choice, Mr. Ordonez.” Mr. Rodriguez’s face hardened, a line forming between his eyebrows. “Get out of my classroom.”
He scratched the back of his head, looking at his teacher in exasperation. “I can’t do that, either.”
I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for hours…
- “Against her will, Melissa’s eyes focused on his lips. They were the kind that made you wonder what it would be like to kiss them.
Not that she ever wondered about that.”
I LOVE it when a character is like, “not that I cared… obvi..”
- this book made me listen to cheesy pop songs I hadn’t heard in ages because it was just SO DAMN CUTE.
- It’s also similar to Skam in that both had a character play “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz on the guitar/ ukulele.
- At this point, I needed to chill the fuck out because I was almost jumping with excitement.
- The repeated lectures Mel got from her principal dad kind of reminded me of this one hilarious scene from The Edge of Seventeen:
Fun fact: this book actually inspired me to finally watch the above film because they’re both set in high school and perfectly capture the joy and awkwardness of being seventeen.
- I appreciated this romance a lot for being straightforward and not messing about with the “does s/he like me or not.”
- kind of random, but I also adored it when the characters went to the beach. That’s how a book wins over my heart in a second.
- Speaking of winning over ones heart, these two are so fucking adorable it actually hurts.
“She stared at him the whole time, a little smile playing on her lips. Upon catching her, he placed the spoon he’d been using on his empty plate and caressed her lower lip with his thumb. Because he could. Her lower lip felt soft and warm. He wanted to kiss it for the foreseeable future.
Her smile grew wider. “I like looking at you.”
I’m trying to contain a smile of my own.
- female friendships. I’m really hoping the next book will focus more on her camera loving best friend, Camille Velasco. Side note: Cam, as she gets called, loves photography, which now I realize is a pun. (Cam…camera, right?)
- I would also love to know more about Lance’s best friend, Jace Hernandez. He’s quite the mystery that I’m more than eager to unravel!!
All in all: though the book had some low points at the start, the more I got swept into Mel and Lance’s love, the more I grew to appreciate their story. I’m so glad I took a leap with Keeping the Distance. And I can’t wait to read more of Clarisse David’s writing in the future!!