Avery Shaw and Aiden Kennedy have been best friends since they were fetuses. They share everything – interests, activities, clubs, a love for learning, a drive to succeed, secrets, houses, even a birthday – but when Avery shares the fact that she’s been in love with Aiden for years, she’s completely blindsided to find out he’s… not. In fact, he’s got a girlfriend he hasn’t even told her about, one who’s made it clear that she has no intention of sharing Aiden with Avery any longer. Aiden’s rejection and withdrawal from her life threatens to completely shatter Avery’s heart, when rescue comes from a completely unexpected source – Grayson Kennedy, player extraordinaire, academically mediocre jock and Aiden’s insanely cute older brother. Determined to get over Aiden, Avery decides to use her emotional pain as the subject of her science fair project by using the seven stages of grief to get over her broken heart with Grayson as an objective observer of her progress. Little does she realize that Grayson may not be as objective as she assumes.
Suffering from a social anxiety disorder, Avery is a more reserved person, more shy, and this one of the reasons Aiden’s rejection hits her so hard. Putting herself out there without Aiden as a shield is scary, and new, and not something she’s really looking forward to tackling on her own. I wish Avery had been a bit stronger of a character, because she kind of goes from the familiarity of Aiden straight to the safety net which is Grayson, but she does start to stand on her own feet a little more by the end which I liked. And though she might shrink away from most social situations, growing up with Grayson being her surrogate older brother, she’s able to be candid and real… and totally calls him on his crap. But this science experiment is becoming more complicated than she originally imagined when Grayson begins showing that he can actually be sweet and understanding… and when she starts seeing him in a whole new light.
Grayson, while he could be really irritating because of his player status and off-color comments, surprisingly, he turned out to be rather endearing. Because despite the whole Don Juan thing, he’s also outgoing, extremely confident, optimistic, genuinely nice, admirably patient and adorably protective. He too, being Aiden’s older brother, has known Avery since birth, and she’s the little sister he never had. Grayson has grown up tormenting her, teasing her, giving her noogies, intentionally grossing her out at every opportunity, spending the holidays with her – they’re practically related. Until the day Aiden dumps Avery. That day, Grayson is reminded, vividly, that Avery is most definitely not his sister in any way, shape or form and that she’s definitely not a little kid anymore (A scenario that a soaking wet t-shirt might possibly have helped expedite…just sayin’). She’s grown up, she’s beautiful, she’s amazing, smart, and funny… and why hasn’t he ever noticed this before? So when she comes to him with the idea to partner up for the science fair so she can get over her broken heart, Grayson becomes hell bent on helping her move on from his incredibly loser-ish, idiot kid brother.
Sappy, a little ridiculous and somewhat far-fetched, this book required a little more suspension of belief than I typically like to… suspend. Grayson’s a little too alpha, Avery’s a little too damsel-in-distress. But with this book, timing was everything, because The Avery Shaw Experiment was also just what I needed when I needed it: A cute, feel-good book that reminds you life can be sunshine-y, wonderful, sparkly and good. A romance that’s cute, a love that’s always been there, a relationship that’s tentatively changing to something more sweet and complex.
I loved the interactions between Avery and Grayson – the new sides they each brought out in the other. I loved how sweet Grayson became, and Avery’s realizations about herself and the realities of her relationships with both brothers. I loved how they both changed and grew as people throughout the experiment. It was just cute, sigh-inducing… and as I said “feel-good.”
Overall. The Avery Shaw Experiment is an adorable book about heartbreak, infatuation and first love… and all the fun, messy, unpredictable-ness that goes along with it.