“Top Ten” follows the story of Gabby Hart and Ryan McCullough, two best friends navigating their way through high school together. Until senior year when one night changes everything. Now, with their dynamic shifted they have to figure out what they mean to each other and if they can be more than friends or if their unlikely friendship was never meant to be.
Told in a realistic voice Cotugno brings to life the characters in a really compelling way. I found that the character shifts between chapters was really natural and I felt both voices were unique which can be a real challenge. I also enjoyed the way Cotugno reveals parts of the story going back and forth between past and present; its a really useful plot device with a story like this and she nailed the pacing. I’ve read two other Cotugno books as of this writing which I will also post about in succession and this one is still my favorite. I felt like even though it fell into a troupe (the will they won’t they/friendzone/best friends to more troupe to be exact) it was a good troupe. It was a cliche story (I love cliche story lines) but it had a lot of good ups and downs that made it unique. I also particularly enjoyed the ending where everyone blows up and dies in a zombie apocalypse. Just kidding. But the ending was really great.
I read this book and then instantly read “99 Days” and “Fireworks” so clearly something in her voice and style was compelling to me. I loved the characters (admittedly I liked Ryan more than Gabby. I felt I related to Ryan more; except the whole hockey player, extrovert thing, particularly because Cotugno refers to him as a “Dirty Hufflepuff” and that just kills me. While I felt Gabby was a lot like me – “anxious, prickly, bi” to quote Cotugno’s website – I also felt like she just annoyed me. Maybe I annoy myself). But I could honestly wax poetic all day about how much I loved Ryan. I ended up really loving Gabby as well, it just took me a little longer to warm up to her.
One of my favorite aspects of the story was that Gabby’s bisexuality was not a focus point of the book. She had girlfriends, she had boyfriends, and that was that. I loved that the story didn’t call attention to this trait, didn’t make the book about this trait. I hope that we can soon live in a world where this is the norm and I love Cotugno for being one of the many writers getting on this way of writing and normalizing (cause it is normal) sexuality in literature. Thank you.
I loved the story; again classic teen romance storyline but I live for that and I always get excited when an author can write them in a really compelling way even when they’re so overdone.
I think if you’re into teen dramas, love the best friends will-they-won’t-they plots, or if you want to try something new then this is a good choice.