The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer
Publication Date: September 1, 1995
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: holidays, siblings, family, romance
Format read: Used copy bought online.
Summary: With the help of a romance novel handbook, Kate launches into her own holiday love story: complete with competitive best friends, a beautiful visitor who may or may not be dating the man of her dreams, and fights over Christmas trees.
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman is actually one of my favorite books from when I was a kid. I’m not sure when I initially read it, but if I had to guess I would say it was around eighth grade. I was really like Kate back then — I wore glasses, I wasn’t exactly Miss Popular, and I was pining away for the most unattainable guy on the planet.
I know it gave me hope that a girl like me — bookish and all — could have her love story too.
Now almost 15 years later (ack! I am having a mini heart attack typing that), my original copy is long gone (be careful about lending your books out, people!) and I am out of college, working, and married. When I saw this book mentioned somewhere last year, I was automatically hit by how much it meant to me back then and I ordered a used copy.
Did it hold up?
From the very beginning, we know that Kate has somehow reached her own happy ending. The fun part for the readers is piecing together how all of that came together, and Kate helps us out by using her handy-dandy romance novel-writing guide to tell us how it really went down. The style isn’t perfect (it gets a bit clunky at times) but it’s definitely refreshing to experience a new style in young adult every now and then. Kate is also sure to include “revisions” to further explain some of the characters and talk through some of the plot and characterization problems. This is where she was at her funniest, and we got to learn more about Kate as a character.
So basically it’s the most romantic time of the year, her best friend has a boyfriend, and Kate’s brother comes home from school with his wife (they married young), Richard (her brother’s best friend who she has loved forever), and Fleur (who she assumes to be Richard’s beautiful girlfriend but instead turns out to be pretty awesome). Will Richard ever see Kate than more than just his best friend’s kid sister? As a leading guy, we don’t get to know Richard all that well… in fact I kind of picture of him as a classic stud, sort of like a young JFK Jr. He’s smart, accomplished, handsome, and funny.
What I love about Kate is that she is completely real. She’s definitely self-conscious but she knows who she is. And while she watches Ashley repeatedly throw herself at Richard (despite that boyfriend of hers), Kate is also left to question the worth of their friendship and if Ashley has ever had her best interest at heart.
Like any teenage romance, there is plenty of drama to go around and while Louise Plummer may let some people off a bit too easily at the end, it’s nice to see the too-tall girl with the bad eyesight win out and not feel like she has to be big-boobed, overly made up to find happiness.
Even after all these years, The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman still holds up as one of my favorite holiday reads. It has the quirky family, the swoony romance, and the perfect dose of Christmas spirit.
Okay, this is one of my absolute favorite holiday songs. I used to blare it in my car on my way to college while thinking of cute boys and spending the holidays with them.