Book Review: How to Be Cool by Johanna Edwards

How to Be Cool follows Kylie Chase, a “cool instructor” who helps the insecure and socially inept become confident and more socially knowledgeable.


Despite what people may have heard, everyone has insecurities. Some people have so many, however, that they want to shed their old skins and completely transform into someone new, someone more sociable and intrepid, someone…cool. What if there was someone that could help, someone who specialized in “coolness” that could create this transformation?

Meet Kylie Chase

Kylie Chase can help. She is a bona-fide “cool instructor” who makes a living from helping the dissatisfied and socially awkward turn into trend-setters. Seemingly undaunted, Kylie is well-versed in pop culture, fashion trends, and anything else required for the great metamorphosis that is turning “cool.” But how satisfied and confident is Kylie herself?

A Hidden Past

As it turns out, Kylie isn’t as intrepid as she seems. Before she became the knowledgeable instructor of the highly popular How to Be Cool classes, she was far from cool–dorky, insecure, and seventy-five pounds heavier. And underneath all the size-eight glamour, Kylie is still uncertain at heart. She still loves Star Wars, she still has two left feet, and most unfortunately, she still really, really cares what people think, far more than a cool instructor should.



A Steady Unraveling


When Kylie’s apartment burns down in a fire, she has nowhere to go but her parents’ house, which has a great impact on her self-confidence. (Kylie is Not Thirty–or twenty-nine–and one of her “cool rules” is that no one should be living with their parents after the age of about twenty-six.) Her parents don’t make her look too cool, either–her father is still enforcing the same rules she had to live by when she was a teenager, and her mother, a size-two former model and “party girl,” makes Kylie pale by comparison. Worse, her high school reunion is fast approaching, and she’s starting to put on the weight she fought so desperately to keep off. Worse still, a handsome journalist is writing an article on Kylie, shadowing her to get a good story, and the secret of her past is at stake. Things are rolling steadily downhill, and Kylie is forced to reconsider the choices she’s made and her career. Is being a cool instructor really what she wants?

So What’s the Verdict?

Johanna Edwards has written a very charming novel. The idea of a cool instructor is a cute enough one for a well-written chick lit book, but the novel goes deeper as it explores the varying insecurities people have and what they’ll do to be rid of them. Unfortunately, the profiles of Kylie’s clients, and how dissatisfied they are, are too true. Kylie initially presents herself to the readers as cool and confident, but as the book goes on, the truth comes out very realistically. Overall, How to Be Cool is light enough to be read in an informal sitting, yet poignant enough to make readers think about their own lives and their own minds.