#Teen Tonic #Book Review of How To Speak Boy by Tiana Smith

Quinn and Grayson have been fierce speech and debate rivals for years. They can’t stand one another, either in competition or in real life.

But when their AP Government teacher returns their school assignments to the wrong cubbies, they begin exchanging anonymous notes without knowing who the other is.

Despite their differences, the two come together through their letters and find themselves unknowingly falling for the competition. Before the state tournament, the two of them need to figure out what they want out of life, or risk their own future happiness. After all, what’s the point of speech and debate if you can’t say what’s in your heart? (From the Book blurb)

My thoughts:


This unexpectedly sweet and delightful teen rom-com introduced me to the super competitive world of Speech and Debate Tournaments. I never realised how interesting this extra-curricular activity can be and how much preparation goes into being able to deliver one’s arguments smoothly and effectively.


Quinn and Grayson, the protagonists of the book, are both successful debaters. When they become co-captains of their school team, so they have to work together to help the others improve their perfomances. The problem is they do not really get along. At least, this is what Quinn thinks. While she has to work extremely hard on every single aspect of her life (and that includes memorising her speeches), Grayson seems to win it all hands down. He is gorgeous, charming, smart, comes from a well-off family, and is a straight A  student. Quinn, on the other hand, is about to fail her AP Government.

One day the AP Government teacher puts a wrong assignment in her locker. Quinn leaves it in the right one and adds a note. Her notes gets a response and so begins a fascinating exchange, where both teens remain anonymous, but gradually open up to each other and speak about their everyday problems, worries as well as bigger dreams and aspirations.


The story may be predictable (although the author throws a few spanners in the works), but it is very entertaining and easy to read. I loved the way neither Quinn, nor Grayson are perfect. Quinn is overthinking everything, but she is also feisty and witty. Grayson’s charm grows on you as you continue reading and by the end of the book you will become his fan. He has his share of worries. Being a politician’s son, he doesn’t feel he is free to choose his career path because of his family expectations. Speaking of families, I loved Quinn’s relationship with her mother and how invested she was into making her mother’s website and helping her achieve success. Grayson’s family especially his Dad and his younger siblings are also adorable in their own way.


I thought the anonymous note exchange part was fun, although it did make me think about our digital world where we form relationships and friendships with people we’ve never met in real life. Sometimes we open up and share our innermost thoughts and get great advice from people who are not blinded by their knowledge of what we look like or sound like, or all the cute and embarrassing things they remember us doing.


There was a very strange love triangle /triangles in this story (the protagonists of the story and the anonymous note-writer) and before you sigh ‘Oh no, not again!’ I want to say that liking several people and having to work out your feelings is also a part of high school experience.


Lighthearted, clean, and entertaining. Recommended for all romantics looking for a quick and enjoyable read.


Thank you to Edelweiss and Swoon Reads for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read How to Speak Boy or any other books by Tiana Smith?What are your favourite high school rom-coms?

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14 Comments

  1. I love learning about an aspect of life I didn’t know about… like speech and debate in HS. I think that would be fun to know more about. And I admit the note writing is something I’m a total fan of. I missed this and now I’m feeling regret. I’ll have to add it to my huge TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m in awe of people who can do Speech and Debate especially Impromptu. Public speaking is one of my biggest fears!😁 There are so many fascinating YA books coming out that my tbr is dangerously out of control. Hope you enjoy it when you read it- it’s a sweet story ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read two YA books this year and it’s only day six! I think the high school/YA genre is getting better again. I was on the speech/debate team waaaayyyy back in the day and came in second because I had a southern accent and said tobaccA instead of tobaccO. I do NOT have that accent any longer!! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are so many interesting YA books coming out in January 🤗📚📚📚
      We didn’t have a speech/debate team, so I had no idea there were all these various subcategories and events.
      I think that second place was so unfair!

      Like

    1. It did sound very competitive! I loved the way the protagonist worked very hard on writing and memorizing her speeches. It didn’t come easy to her. She also had a wonderful relationship with her mom ❤ Thank you, Carla!

      Liked by 1 person

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