Leta’s Book Review: Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor

Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor

Young Adult Contemporary Romance, 12+

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5


Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


I did not expect to fall in love with Beatrice and Long Story Short the way that I did. I’ve already ordered and received my physical copy in the mail since I liked the eARC so much and knew I’d want to read it again.

Despite being fifteen/sixteen, Beatrice isn’t really a “teenager”. She’s been homeschooled her entire life and kept out of extracurricular activities by her parents. Yes, she’s a genius who had enough credits to apply to Oxford at her age. But when it comes to being social with peers or going outside of her routine, Beatrice struggles. So, when she receives her acceptance letter from Oxford and tells her parents, they are understandably concerned about sending her away to another country. They make a deal with her: if she can go to a theatre camp for four weeks and come out of it having participated fully and completed their list of requirements, she can go to Oxford. Her parent’s list is:

1.     Make a friend

2.     Share a secret

3.     Walk up to someone and make small talk

4.     Accept an invitation you don’t want to

5.     Do an outdoor activity

6.     Pull a prank

7.     Execute a dare

8.     Hug three people

Beatrice begrudgingly agrees and begins the uncomfortable journey of Beatrice at a Shakespeare theatre camp.

Immediately after meeting Beatrice, I began to make connections between her and the many autistic traits that she shows. A lot of her coping mechanisms hit different; in that all-too-familiar space I try to pretend isn’t there until I need it. I fell in love with her learning herself among all the people at camp. I fell in love with her way of seeing the world, for once so scarily similar to my own – and not in a bad way.

My biggest frustration was Beatrice’s parents. They made me so angry that I almost quit reading before the plot actually took off. They treat her like an adult in some ways, but when she reveals that she got into Oxford and wants to move there, they immediately act like she’s an incompetent child. They think she’s completely inept in social situations and unprepared for a move to another country. BUT…it’s not her fault if that’s the case! Her parents are the ones who allowed her to be homeschooled and never inserted her into social activities from a young age. Even if she truly is autistic like I believe she is, having socialization from a young age would have at least helped. It bugged me so much that they have no trust in her, yet also believe her to be so perfectly responsible for her own education. I felt a lot of kinship with Beatrice in her situation – though I went to public school and have some social skills – and the absolute BEST thing I ever did was move away on my own. Living in a city almost two hours away from my closest family member or friend meant that I was able to figure out who I was without the pressure to be myself the “right” way. I gained invaluable experience in life. I wish Beatrice’s parents were more on board with her plan and trusting of their daughter without the ridiculous deal of sending her to the most uncomfortable place on the planet.

Her new friends are amazing. Mia and Nolan are exactly the kind of people I always wished I had in my corner. These two are the definition of extroverts who adopt introverts. In this case, they take Bea under their wings, and she very quickly tells them about the list (another thing I love about this novel: there’s no hiding intentions or dishonesty! And the miscommunication that does happen makes so much sense and is a part of the character development). Once they know about this list, they make it their mission to help her have the best experience possible. Naturally, that means adding more to the list (you’ll have to read it to find out what those are!) and gently helping Bea to achieve those things.

The inclusion of Shakespeare into this novel was not only incredibly nerdy and shows proficiency of knowledge but is also the cutest thing. Beatrice and her love interest find themselves in a contest of knowledge, each trying to outmaneuver the other with quotes from Shakespeare’s works. One will give a quote and the other has to guess the title of the work that quote is from. It turns into the best kind of banter, with flirty quotes and insulting quotes thrown back and forth. I love that the romance in this novel is over something so dorky and bookish. It made the romance feel so interesting and real.

This review ended up being so much longer than I thought. But it was so important for me to talk about this book in detail and I’m only sorry that it took so long to write it all out. Serena Kaylor, I loved this novel. I want to read more of your novels. I love Beatrice so much and I want to say thank you for writing a character that helps me to feel seen. So, to all the readers that are here: pick this book up, if romance and/or Shakespeare are your thing. You won’t regret reading Long Story Short.


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