With or Without You
Published November 7, 2023
About With or Without You
New from Eric Smith comes a delightful YA rom-com about two teens caught in the middle of their families’ orchestrated rivalry between their Philly cheesesteak food trucks.
All’s fair in love and (food truck) war.
Everyone knows Jordan Plazas and Cindy Ortiz hate each other.
According to many viral videos of their public shouting matches, the Plazas and Ortiz families have a well-known food truck rivalry. Jordan and Cindy have spent all of high school making cheesesteaks and slinging insults at each other across their shared Philadelphia street.
But the truth? They’re in love, and it’s all just an act for the tourists.
When the fake feud lands them a reality TV show pilot, Jordan and Cindy find themselves having to lie on a much bigger scale. Trapped between pursuing their dreams or their love, can they find a way to have their cheesesteak and eat it too?
I think my favorite thing about this book is that it gives you a standalone romance storyline, but the kind of plot you don’t usually get unless you read a series. Jordan and Cindy are together at the start of the story, so there’s none of the figuring out if the other person has feelings. It’s all about the tension between the public rivalry between Cindy and Jordan and their families and their private lives, which include a romantic relationship.
There’s a lot of cool stuff happening in this book, too. From loads of musical references to very different approaches to food truck fare and ingredients, I felt like I got the characters and could easily picture their reactions to things that happened.
I also think the story has a great balance in focus on its characters. Both Jordan’s and Cindy’s parents have unique personalities, but none of them dominate the story. Understanding their characters helps us better understand Cindy and Jordan, but they also feel like fully developed characters on their own.
One of my favorite things about the book (besides the excellent breakdown of a perfect breakfast sandwich) is the banter between the characters. I loved the snarky comments and goofy exchanges with friends. Those scenes felt natural and made me laugh out loud more than once.
I think readers who enjoy books about food and friendships or reality TV and sweet romance will find so much to love in this fun tribute to Philadelphia and food truck life.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Both Cindy and Jordan are Latine and American.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used very infrequently.
Kissing between boy and girl.
A boy calls a girl some unkind names. Banter escalates into a bit of a scuffle, but it’s quickly defused.
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