Book Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Book review: THE ART OF LAINEY by Paula Stokes.

I’m going to start this off by saying that I’m not usually a fan of contemporary anything, let alone contemporary romance. Nothing against readers or writers of contemporary romance, it’s just not usually my thing. Give me hard sci-fi, epic fantasy, and YA dystopian any day – just don’t make me read about real life!

I met author Paula Stokes at the Mighty Mississippi Book Blast tour stop in St. Louis this summer, and I decided to buy her book because she seemed so awesome, and her book seemed like it had an unusual twist on contemporary YA romance. I had a vacation coming up, and a light beach read was exactly what I needed.

As with most contemporary romances, I wasn’t surprised by the ending – I was, however, surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It was so fun, and had a great message about finding your own identity.

Here’s the plot of the book:

Lainey just finished her junior year of high school, and everything is going perfect. She’s the most popular girl in school (well, second to her friend Kendall), dating the most popular guy in school, Jason (Kendall’s twin brother), and she’s the star of the school soccer team. She has her whole senior year planned out – and planned to revolve around Jason.

However, what she hasn’t planned on is Jason dumping her right at the beginning of summer – in the middle of her parents’ coffee shop, in the middle of a throng of spectators.

Lainey is crushed, devastated, pretty much every word a thesaurus could come up with to describe a state of being distressed. She doesn’t know what to do with her life. She doesn’t know how to define herself as anything other than “Jason’s girlfriend.”

So with the help of her best friend, Bianca, Lainey formulates a plan to win Jason back – by using techniques found in the book “The Art of War.” As the plan continues, the girls decide the best course of action is to make Jason jealous – by having Lainey “fake-date” another guy. She chooses Micah – a Goth with a Mohawk, who happens to be Lainey’s coffee-shop coworker. Micah is also getting over a broken heart, so he agrees to team up with Lainey in order to make his ex-girlfriend Amber jealous too.

At first Lainey – the popular jock who loves being the center of attention – can’t see how she could ever be friends with someone like Micah. But as the two grow closer, Lainey begins to realize that who she thought she was – and what she thought she wanted – may be far from accurate.

Things I loved about this book:

  1. Lainey and Bianca’s friendship. These girls are solid best friends. It was so refreshing to read about high school girl friends who build each other up, not tear each other down with backstabbing and jealousy. They make a great team, and I loved it.
  2. Real St. Louis sites. Any St. Louis local or anyone who has visited the city in the past will appreciate the landmarks Stokes included in this book. I loved reading about Forest Park, Cardinal’s Stadium, and other places I regularly frequent.
  3. The anti-hero. Micah isn’t the usual “male lead.” He’s a Goth with a Mohawk who likes screaming music and strange restaurants. However, I loved how he’s more than just the punk that Lainey originally thinks he is. He’s protective of his mom and younger sister, and still harboring grief over the loss of his father. He’s a jokester, who also dreams of becoming a chef. I found the depth of his character really awesome.
  4. Lainey. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like the main character in the beginning. I found her whiney, clingy, and way too attached to a boy. As she mourned the loss of her identity with the loss of her boyfriend, I rolled my eyes, wondering what message this was sending to teen girls. However, as the book progresses, Lainey really grows as a character. She tries new things. She discovers new hobbies and pieces of herself she never knew about. As the book moves forward, she realizes that she can have that awesome senior year she wanted – playing soccer and hanging out with friends, but without the boy she used to think she couldn’t live without. I really enjoyed being in Lainey’s head during this transition.

Five stars to THE ART OF LAINEY. It’s a quick, light read, and will keep you entertained. I’m looking forward to Stokes’ next book!

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