Pub. Date: January 21, 2020
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Wednesday Books!)
Summary: Pepper’s family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, Jack’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
Genre: YA, Contemporary
After their tiny burger joint blew up to nationwide popularity (currently the fourth largest fast food chain in the US with sights on going global), Pepper’s family packed up and left Nashville for the bright lights of New York. At least, it should have been her entire family. One extremely amicable divorce left her dad back in their once-cozy apartment where he genuinely wanted to run their flagship location. It wasn’t long before Paige’s relationship with their mother deteriorated and once she left she college, she was gone, leaving Pepper alone in a too-big, too-glamorous New York sky rise apartment to deal with her ultra elite school (her grades back in Nashville were always great, but the competition is fierce here; one night of slacking off can mean the difference between getting into an Ivy League school) along with running Big League Burger’s Twitter account.
From the moment he was born (eleven minutes after his brother), Jack has always come second. Ethan is outgoing, charismatic, uber popular. Despite having the same face, it’s Ethan everyone knows. Even at Girl Cheesing, their family’s deli, Jack is the one expected to run the register, wipe down tables, even take over one day. Although Jack absolutely loves the deli, his true passion lies in developing apps. His latest, Weazl, is an anonymous chat platform only accessible by those with an email address for his school. Once signed up, members are given an animal for their username, and no one knows who they’re talking to…unless randomly selected by the app to reveal identities. Weazl is Jack’s pride and joy, but no one knows – especially not his brother.
Despite being a New York staple for decades, Girl Cheesing only has a few hundred Twitter followers, nothing like the several million Big League Burger can claim. That is, until BLB announces a new grilled cheese sandwich that’s a little too similar to one off the Girl Cheesing menu, right down to its name. One off-the-cuff Tweet suddenly sparks a viral Twitter war between the two restaurants, a fast food David & Goliath story. Each Tweet racks up hundreds of new followers for Girl Cheesing, suddenly there are hashtags for each side, requests from journalists for comments, bloggers offering their own opinions. All the while, Pepper and Jack have no idea who they’re truly duking it out with.
Tweet Cute immediately caught my eye when I first heard about it. It sounded not only super timely, but also, well, cute. And it is. The reader can instantly sympathize with Pepper and Jack: although her family is loaded, Pepper is thrown into this elite world where her fellow classmates have make-up artists on speed dial and $200 an hour math tutors. A far cry from her worn-out cowboy boots and beloved Monster Cake, a delicious monstrosity of literally any – and every – candy and sweet in the cupboards. Jack is desperate to be seen, not mistaken for Ethan, but actually recognized as his own person.
Through Weazl, Wolf and Bluebird have formed an easy friendship. In reality, however, Jack and Pepper are anything but. After Jack offers to take on his brother’s dive team captain responsibilities (organize a fundraiser, set a schedule with the swim team’s captain – Pepper – for lane use), the pair begin an uneasy acquaintance that, over time, slowly develops into a full-fledged friendship. Until Pepper leaves her phone unlocked one day and Jack sees a drafted Tweet from BLB’s account.
Tweet Cute clocks in at over 360 pages and the story feels it. Although I was enjoying the book, every time I would check my progress, I couldn’t help but feel shocked to see I had only moved forward a percent or two. There’s definitely a fair amount that can be edited…starting with the Tweets. Yep. The whole reason the book exists! Instead of being jokey and in good humor, some of the tweets came off as brutal and vicious, turning downright malicious by the end. As a McDonald’s and Burger King competitor, Big League Burger would have had ample resources at their disposal to hire an entire team to run their social media. It struck me as odd that Pepper, the founder’s 17-year-old daughter, would be the one seemingly forced to keep up with it, particularly once it clearly began affecting her grades. Although Girl Cheesing had been around for decades, it was still a family-run deli, so it made complete sense for Ethan and Jack to be the ones handling what few Tweets the account had. Also, to go back to BLB, at one point the account is hacked on a Friday. Again, this is a nationwide chain that is in talks to take their burgers to the international market. Their tech guys? Shrugged it all off and said it can wait until Monday. Um.
While Tweet Cute had me scratching my head a few times and felt overly long, I did enjoy reading it. The romance between Pepper and Jack – and their couple name, PepperJack – really was cute and the desserts Pepper and her sister bake sounded downright heavenly. To the point where I wished the book included recipes!