Smash It! Book Cover Smash It!
Francina Simone
Young Adult
Inkyard Press
September 22, 2020
Hardcover, Audiobook, Kindle

Olivia “Liv” James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does…

After Liv shows up to a Halloween party in khaki shorts—why, God, why?—she decides to set aside her wack AF ways. She makes a list—a F*ck-It list.

1. Be bold—do the thing that scares me.

2. Learn to take a compliment.

3. Stand out instead of back.

She kicks it off by trying out for the school musical, saying yes to a date and making new friends. Life is great when you stop punking yourself! However, with change comes a lot of missteps, and being bold means following her heart. So what happens when Liv’s heart is interested in three different guys—and two of them are her best friends? What is she supposed to do when she gets dumped by a guy she’s not even dating? How does one Smash It! after the humiliation of being friend-zoned?

In Liv’s own words, “F*ck it. What’s the worst that can happen?”

A lot, apparently.


Smash It! by Francina Simone is juicy, messy, and highly entertaining (in a good way!)

In Smash It! by Francina Simone, Olivia is living her life hiding her talents, her interests, and even her curves. She is young, insecure, and after a come-to-Jesus moment with a bartender at a club, she is determined to change her life. To ensure she sticks to her plan, she creates a list of rules that, she is sure, will help her keep her on track—be bold, learn to take compliments, stand out.

Soon after, Olivia finds herself saying yes to a variety of unexpected and scary opportunities life presents her, including joining her school’s production of Othello (which central to the development of the story). On her journey, she meets new friends, figures out how she feels about the old ones, explores her teenage carnal desires, and learns to embrace herself.

The good

I enjoyed this book because Olivia is not perfect, but she learns from her mistakes. The story is an authentic and beautiful coming of age story. The main characters, Olivia and her two best friends struggle with being different, stereotypes, popularity, insecurities, sexual awareness, and first loves as well as with their cultural and ethnic heritages.  But in the short time we spend with them, they grow. No, they blossom!

The meh

Unfortunately, I didn’t love the breaks in the narrative to add excerpts from Shakespeare’s Othello. I’m not even sure if they were actual excerpts or Olivia’s thoughts in Shakespearean-style monologues. Truthfully, I skipped through some parts of them. I’m not a Shakespeare fan (go ahead and judge, idc), but I understand why Othello served as inspiration. The parallel between Olivia’s progress and Othello’s storyline as she prepares to be part of the play was pretty creative and well explained for those of us who last gave Othello a thought in 2001 when “O” came out.

The great!

I loved the sass, the banter, and the boldness of all the characters. There were really cringy moments, but overall I had a lot of fun with Olivia and her friends. I consistently chuckled while reading this book. Simone did a great job making sure each character’s personality had time shinning in the spotlight. In the end, I felt that usual emptiness that only comes when I’m left wanting more time with the beautiful characters.

I recommend you pick up this book with an open mind and an open heart.

Smash It! by Francina Simone will be available on September 22, 2020. Pre-order it now!