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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NYU chapter.

As a Jenny Han and Morgan Matson fan, I was eager to read Marisa Kanter’s book, “Finally Fitz,” which follows a bisexual teen girl who tries to make her ex jealous by faking an Instagram romance that leads to surprisingly real feelings. 

Perfect for fans of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “She Gets the Girl,” this romcom has many subplots pertaining to ongoing relationships besides the one happening between the main character and her love interests that hooked me from the start. While I am not a huge fan of the fake dating trope, I must admit, this book was an exception. With authentic writing and characters, “Finally Fitz” is the perfect read for romcom lovers especially those who love New York City. It tackles love in many forms like self-love and sibling love, which drew me to Kanter’s pages even more. Kanter is visiting The Ripped Bodice in Brooklyn on April 26th at 7 p.m. to discuss her book with author Kelsey Rodkey, known for writing “Last Chance Books.” If you are a romance book lover and live in the NYC area, you must visit The Ripped Bodice; you’ll thank me later.

“Finally Fitz” follows Ava “Fitz” Fitzgerald who has worked hard to create the picture-perfect life she’s always wanted. She spent her junior year transforming her passion for sustainable fashion and upcycling into a viral online platform, maintaining a 4.0 GPA and spending every free second with her soon-to-graduate girlfriend, Danica. This summer she plans to take it all to the next level by attending a prestigious summer fashion program in New York City and convincing Dani that they can survive a year of long distance. But when Dani dumps her before classes even start, accusing Fitz of being more invested in growing her online persona than deepening their relationship, she’s left not only heartbroken, but also creatively blocked.

Fitz will do anything to win Dani back, even if that means taking a break from the platform that she’s worked so hard to build. But just as she decides to go all-in on a hiatus, a chance encounter reunites her with Levi Berkowitz, her childhood best friend that she hasn’t seen since elementary school. Levi is struggling with heartbreak of his own, and this cosmic coincidence sparks a new use for her social media savvy. Fitz offers to help Levi craft a fake relationship online to make his person jealous if he can pretend to be her boyfriend in front of Dani to make her jealous. If all goes according to plan, by the end of the summer they’ll both be reunited with their perfect partners and get to rekindle their friendship in the process.

Sometimes even the most carefully designed plans can come apart at the seams though. And when real history leads to not-so-fake feelings, Fitz will have to decide if she’s finally willing to let go of what she thought was picture-perfect and choose what might be right for her.

Marisa Kanter is a young adult author, amateur baker and reality television enthusiast. She is the author of “What I Like About You,” “As If on Cue” and “Finally Fitz.” Born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, her obsession with books led her to New York City, where she worked in the publishing industry to help books find their perfect readers. She currently lives in Los Angeles, writing love stories by day and crocheting her wardrobe by night.

This was such a fun interview to conduct! I wanted to focus on Kanter’s publishing experience in NYC that gave her a love for the city and delve more into the personal details behind this book, like her own relationship with her sister and her mental health journey while drafting “Finally Fitz.”

You have a unique experience as an author by both working in the industry and being published. How does your experience working in publishing tie into your experience as an author? 

I’ve been writing full-time since 2021, but prior to that, I spent five years working in publishing in various roles like sales, digital marketing and publicity. These experiences absolutely informed my debut novel, “What I Like About You,” about a teen who dreams of one day being a publicist at a children’s publisher. Nowadays, I think my industry experience has been super beneficial to navigating the business aspects of being an author.  Having a sense of how things work behind the scenes definitely aids in quieting my anxious brain and reminds me to focus on the only thing that I do have control over, the words. 

Where did Levi’s plant influencer personality come from? Did you draw inspiration from somewhere? Did you do some plant research, and if so, what are some fun facts you learned?

Every day, I aspire to be the plant person that Levi is! Honestly, a lot of my plant research for “Finally Fitz” was driven by my own desire to be a better plant parent. I don’t have the greenest of thumbs, but it was so much fun writing about someone who does and I just think it’s such an endearing quality, to be caring and attentive to plants and have a love for nature in general. Plus, with Fitz having an interest in sustainable fashion, these passions rooted in caring about the planet felt like something these two characters could connect over and be fun to explore. 

In your acknowledgments, you write that you “started writing ”Finally Fitz” during a moment when [your] mental health was at the lowest it had ever been.” What did you learn about yourself during this process? Was there anything in particular that you think you wouldn’t have discovered had you not written Fitz?

I drafted this book during my darkest time. Fitz’s struggles with anxiety and perfectionism come from a personal place. Growing up, that label was assigned to me from an early age. Perfectionist. Then, I self-identified as one. Believed it was a positive quality—I had high standards, I had ambition! Well, I also put an unbearable amount of pressure on myself. “Finally Fitz” is my third book, but the first book I sold on proposal (as in, my publisher bought it off a few sample chapters and then it was up to me to finish writing it). And I just . . . couldn’t write. I felt broken. I’d sit down in front of the computer and cry. I’d quit my day job,  moved across the country, called myself a full-time writer . . . and I couldn’t write. I am fortunate to have found an incredible therapist and have learned so much about myself in the over two years that I’ve been in therapy so far. One major a-ha moment that has stuck and really influenced “Finally Fitz” is that perfectionism isn’t a personality trait, but rather, it’s often a symptom of anxiety. I’m not even being hyperbolic when I say that breakthrough changed my life.  

You give a shout out to your sister, Vanessa, whom this book is dedicated to. Why is there “a sister love story in this book” because of your relationship with your sister? How do you think your relationship with Vanessa compares and/or differs to Fitz and her sister?

Vanessa is my best friend. As adults, we are the closest and I’m so proud of how our relationship has evolved over time. Because I think it’s fair to say (and she would agree!) that this wasn’t the case growing up. Of course, there was always love, but we just didn’t understand each other or know how to communicate effectively with each other. In “Finally Fitz,” Fitz’s relationship with her sisters is affected by a significant age gap, which is not the case for us, as we’re just 2.5 years apart…and obviously, being close in age affected our relationship in its own way! We’ve done a lot of reflecting together about our dynamic as kids, and those conversations inspired how I write sisters—with love, and with a fierce (sometimes misguided) protectiveness.

“Finally Fitz” is also a love letter to New York City as Fitz discovers more about herself while exploring the city. Why do you think you set this story in New York City, and what do you think the appeal of the Big Apple is for the romcom genre?

Oh, it’s 1000% a love letter to New York City. I lived in New York for six years and a piece of my heart will always belong to that city. There’s just something inherently romantic about the city, an indescribable energy, and I feel like I don’t know how to talk about my love for it without speaking in cliches, but they’re all true! In “Finally Fitz,” I wrote my New York, the city I fell in love with when I moved there for undergrad at eighteen. Also, I wanted to write teens experiencing the city on a budget, so a lot of the places featured are either free or low cost because though the city gets a reputation for being expensive (it is), there is also so much beauty to see and so many activities that don’t break the bank. 

Like Fitz, you also have a knack for making your own clothes. What are clothes do you like to make? Was this aspect of writing Fitz’s character easy since you had personal experience in it?

Actually, I started to learn how to make my own clothes while writing “Finally Fitz.” As  part of my mental health journey, I sought a creative outlet that wasn’t at all tied to my work, and I reintroduced myself to crochet. My grandma taught as a child… but being me, because I wasn’t immediately amazing at it, I didn’t take to it. The first garment I made was a tank top, and when I sat down to start it, I told myself that it didn’t have to be perfect, I just had to finish it. And I did! I haven’t stopped since. Wearable garments are my favorite to make, usually tank tops and sweaters. It’s so rewarding to wear something that I made with my own hands, and it’s a skill that definitely makes me feel closer to Fitz. 

Thank you to Marisa Kanter for answering my questions! You’ve written such an amazing book that captures the New York City experience in an authentically beautiful way that I couldn’t help but fall in love with while reading “Finally Fitz.” Wishing you much success on your third book, and I can’t wait to see what else you write! 

Thank you to Alex Kelleher-Nargorski for sending me copies of “Finally Fitz” and for putting me in touch with Kanter for this interview! 

Sabrina Blandon is an English major at NYU with a minor in creative writing. Avid reader herself and literary advocate, she has interviewed over 60 authors from New York Times bestselling ones to debut authors for Her Author Spotlight blog series for Her Campus NYU and Her Campus Hofstra. She loves exploring everything New York City has to offer and is a major foodie.