Book ReviewYoung Adult

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno (ARC)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray | Pages: 320

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★★★★☆

The publisher kindly sent me a physical copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. 


Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants – and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favourite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list – counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:

10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.

9. Then there was our awkward phase.

8. When you were in love with me but never told me …

7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.

6. Through terrible fights …

5. And emotional makeups.

4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.

3. … but at times, you were also the one breaking it.

2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.

1. Now, as we head off to college – how am I possibly going to live without you?


Top Ten was a great and enjoyable contemporary romance. It was charming, filled with witty humour and relatable characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing and the storyline of this book.

One aspect that I really liked throughout the length of this novel was the back and forth between character perspectives. Usually, I’m not a fan. I find the back and forth to be confusing and not spaced out well enough. However, Cotugno wrote this novel in such a way that allowed for the different perspectives to continue the chapter as if the character narrating did not change. I think this really lent itself to the success of this novel for me.

The fact that both of these characters, Ryan and Gabby, struggled with ‘issues’ was really important. Gabby struggled with crippling anxiety while Ryan struggled with issues that went along with concussions. The fact that both of these characters had their own struggles made them relatable not only to each other, but also to those reading. Both of these characteristics deepened the characters, and showcased their flaws, which was quite refreshing.

Cotugno dedicated herself to the top ten theme throughout the length of the novel in a number of ways. Not only were the chapters a countdown of memorable moments throughout their four years of high school, they also contained the main characters discussing “top tens” for a number of other moments (i.e. top ten non-touristy things to do in New York). I liked seeing the theme of the novel resonating throughout the life of the characters.

The ending was not what I expected and was a little bit of a let down for me. But if I’m being completely honest, I feel like it was the proper ending for this book. I am a huge fan of things progressing naturally and being more realistic. I’m glad that the book ended the way it did because it strengthened the characters personalities and highlighted their natural progression throughout the storyline.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable book. Between school and work, I read it over two days, but if I didn’t have those, I probably would have finished it in one sitting. I would recommend it to those looking for a quick, contemporary book. I would also recommend it to those looking for an LBTQ+ main character. It is definitely a great summer read, or just for those looking for a book with a nostalgic look back at high school!

Rating: ★★★★☆

About the Author:

Katie Cotugno went to Catholic school for thirteen years which makes her, as an adult, both extremely superstitious and prone to crushes on boys wearing blazers. She routinely finds herself talking about the romantic endeavours of characters on TV shows as it if they actually exist in the world.

The great loves of Katie’s life include child’s pose, her little sister, and mozzarella and honey sandwiches. She lives in Boston (and in sin) with her boyfriend, Tom.

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Victoria @ The Contented Reader

Victoria @ The Contented Reader

Avid reader and tea drinker. I read and review young adult books on my blog, The Contented Reader!

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