Girl on the Ferris Wheel / Julie Halpern & Len Vlahos / Book Review


High school sophomores Eliana and Dmitri have little in common.

Eliana is shy and introspective. Dmitri is loud and outgoing. Eliana would rather spend her weekends wrapped up in blankets marathoning Harry Potter one more time. Dmitri spends his weekends as the drummer for a local, up-and-coming punk band.

When Dmitri quite literally falls for Eliana in their shared gym class, however, they find themselves suddenly entangled in a realm entirely new: the realm of first love. Exciting and awkward, they wrestle to sort through their relationship, but with so little in common, how long can the butterflies of first love last?



Male Romance Narrator This story is not merely told from the female perspective, as is often the case with romance. Dmitri gets a perspective, too, and his voice is really fun. More importantly, Dmitri is written by a male writer, which is necessary not just for romance but also in YA in general. Male YA authors are hard to come by, especially in contemporary romance.

Living With Depression This book does a good job of representing a life with clinical depression. Depression is different for everyone, of course, and so Eliana will not match everyone's experience. Her experience, however, is nuanced and fair. There need to be more books, in YA and in general, that feature characters who are neuro-divergent--especially books that include meet-cute-style romance. Life can and does exist for those struggling with their mental health, and it is nice to read a book where even a girl who wrestles with her depression can experience first love and deep friendship.

Fandom Representation This book speaks to so many different fandoms on so many levels. Eliana is a Harry Potter fan, of course, and she is also a Doctor Who fan. She makes constant references to these fandoms, from iconic film scenes to niche trivia. Any Potterhead or Whovian will be excited to see this representation on the page, but these fandoms aren't the only ones given a shout-out. Eliana and Dmitri are both film buffs, so films are constantly being referenced, from Hitchcock classics to B-movie horror to modern dystopian flicks.


This book contains a lot of love-story metaphors and clich├ęd phrases, especially in the opening pages, and this felt a little over the top. From naming Dmitri's band "Unexpected Turbulence" to having a fortune-telling Greek granny who predicts love on Dmitri's horizon, it all feels a little too prescribed--though I do love Dmitri's Yia Yia in every other sense. The predictability factor here is pretty high, and overall, this heavy-handed imagery just makes the book feel a little bit too juvenile, like it was right on the border of Middle Grade instead of solidly YA. Heavy-Handed Premonitions

One of the benefits of first person narration is allowing the character to speak directly. This can make the character more or less "relatable," depending on the author's goal. Here, however, the "relatability" factor was often times just awkward. I mean, whenever a narrator uses the word "fartblossom," it's a cringe from me. I found Eliana's narration especially cringe-y, though Dmitri's can definitely feel that way, too. Overall, it feels like these authors were trying too hard to sound casual, hip, and young, and it just doesn't work. If secondhand embarrassment is a problem for you, this book may just cause an aneurysm. Cringe-Worthy "Relatability"

This book, as all contemporary YA should, includes a fair amount of texting. This is necessary. Texting is a prime form of communication, after all. However, these text conversations read a little stilted and unnatural. Of course, rendering a book text message like a real text message would just be messy. Nobody wants to read a real text message in a book, just like nobody wants to read a real conversation, all the ums and ahs included. But the texting conversations included here just felt off. Maybe it was just the fact that everyone was signing off at the end with a "talk to you soon" or a "goodnight"/"goodbye." Though natural in face-to-face communication, it felt unnecessary and strange to end this way in text. Or maybe that's just me. Texting Foibles



Fans of the complicated simplicity of early love in Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park should check out this new first love story. Those who appreciated the OCD representation in John Green's Turtles All the Way Down should check out this balanced view of love and depression as well.


Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Date: January 12, 2021
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. I'm glad that the characters give different perspectives that normal YA.


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