The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 20, 2014
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: breakups, best friends, changing perspective
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)
Summary: Even though her boyfriend breaks up with her at work in front of her friends, she’s still determined to get him back. When her best friend suggests using THE ART OF WAR as a tactic to get Jason’s attention, Lainey enlists her coworker, Micah, to be her “pretend” boyfriend. They will help each other win back their exes. As she hangs out more with Micah, she realizes he wasn’t exactly who she thought and maybe she’s not exactly who she wants to be either.
The Art of Lainey was the pick-me-up book that I desperately needed after a rough day.
I started it after work, and stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it. I just didn’t want to go to bed without a happy ending of some kind. Thankfully, Paula Stokes delivered in so many ways — I laughed, I swooned, I got a little angry, and, in the end, closed the book, completely satisfied and happy I got to hang out with Lainey and Micah for a few hours.
What I loved most about this book was the growth of Lainey’s character. When we first meet her, she’s totally in love with Jason, kind of a slacker at work (even though her dad owns the place), makes fun of her mom’s tea readings, and is totally concerned with appearances, a.k.a. super judgmental, but when life throws her a curveball — a sudden breakup with Jason — slowly but surely Lainey starts to realize just how much she has changed in the past couple of years and how much she may have missed out on because of it.
It’s true that her time with Micah has a lot to do with this. His spiked hair, his smoking, his tattoos — Lainey is clearly letting what he looks like determine what she thinks she knows about him. But as they start going on different dates to psych out their exes and she learns more about him, she realizes she actually likes his hair and the music he listens to, that he is the hardest worker at her dad’s store, she is able to apply that epiphany to herself. Her “other” best friend and how strategic she can be about who they hang out with; how she might go a little overboard on the tanning because she was once told she was too pale. Who is she trying so hard for? It’s certainly not making her any happier.
I’m a sucker for these “let’s date and win back someone else” stories because MOST of the time the chemistry between the two characters pretending comes from somewhere very real, and, as much as they try to fight it, at some point, they can’t any longer. It was really fun to watch Lainey and Micah, both so focused on this goal, sort of break down and realize that maybe they weren’t fighting for the same thing anymore. Micah is genuinely a good guy — not everyone would help a girl with this kind of thing — and I was rooting for him the whole time.
Should I keep gushing about The Art of Lainey? Lainey has a great best friend in Bianca who has her back, day and night, and the rest of the supporting characters (Micha’s younger sister; their school friend, Leo) were well-developed and genuine, adding a fullness to the story. See? See? See? This book was such a surprise; I really enjoyed Lainey’s journey to learn from those around her and become a more compassionate and self-aware person.
Definitely pick this one up for your beach bag this year!