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Review: Worldwide Crush by Kristin Nilsen

Worldwide Crush Kristin Nilsen cover shows a girl sitting on the back of a leather couch looking up. Behind her is a giant poster of a boy with a guitar.

Worldwide Crush
Kristin Nilson
Published July 11, 2023

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About Worldwide Crush

Rory Calhoun is a teen popstar with perfect teeth and messy hair who’s inspiring first crushes all over the globe. Millie Jackson is just one of the millions of fans who love him—but that doesn’t mean her heart doesn’t break for him every single day in this laugh-out-loud coming-of-age story.

How many of Rory’s fans collect “data” about him in a special notebook hidden in their underwear drawer? Or have faked a fascination with whale migration for a chance to visit his hometown? Millie may not be Rory’s only fan at Susan B. Anthony Middle School, but she’s convinced she’s the biggest—and the best.

Rory’s new song “Worldwide Crush” is climbing the charts, and his lyrics are he’s looking for love—and he’s looking in the audience. Meaning Millie’s secret fantasies of running in the surf and eating waffles with him may not be crazy after all . . . she could be that girl! But first she has to get to his concert—his completely sold-out concert in a city nowhere near her home for which she does not have tickets or a ride. She just has to figure out how.

My Review

Probably the best thing about this book is the voice. Millie is bright and self-conscious as she chatters about middle school, her family, and her crush on teen superstar Rory Calhoun. I felt like the snippets of media and song lyrics felt like they could be from any boy band or teen icon, so that fit the story really well.

The only thing that made me feel a little weird was the part of the performances where Rory would bring a girl onstage and sing a song to her about falling in love. In the book he is fifteen, and the girl he brings up onstage is maybe twelve? Later, he sees a tween girl lying on a couch crying and kisses her forehead. I think it was supposed to be sweet, but I couldn’t really get into it because the difference between twelve and fifteen seems like a lot to me, and it bordered on creepy just a teeny bit for me.

Beyond that, though, I liked the frank, unapologetic take on tween celebrity crushes and the way that Millie’s family finds ways to both set boundaries and support her or celebrate her crush with her. Millie’s relationship with her mom felt pretty realistic. I appreciated the nuance and layering there, and the way that sometimes even Millie recognized she was being hurtful or unfair, but was having a hard time navigating strong feelings. That absolutely resonates with me when I think about my own middle school days!

On the whole, I enjoyed the perky, upbeat voice and the positive depiction of girlhood and growing up.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 10 to 14.

Millie is white. Her best friend is biracial: white and Filipino. A minor character has a panic attack and other characters briefly discuss anxiety disorders and mental illness.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used a little frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
A boy kisses a girl on the forehead.

Spiritual Content
Millie prays to whoever might be listening and notes that she’s never attended Sunday School, so she isn’t sure how prayer should go. She attends a seminar for mothers and daughters that takes place at a church, but doesn’t appear to be a church-sponsored function.

Violent Content

Drug Content
Millie hears about a girl who was caught smoking pot. Rumors circulate that a musician canceled a performance due to drug problems.

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