Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Release date: May 20th, 2014
Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss
Length: 384 pages
Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Sarah Dessen, and Susane Colasanti, The Art of Lainey tells the story of how, with the help of The Art of War, Lainey plots the perfect plan to get her boyfriend back. But is getting him back really what she wants?
Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warnings, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.
And that's when Lainey and Bianca stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, the girls are sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey's arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous.
After a few "dates," it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game. Can fighting for what she wants help Lainey figure out what she really needs?
Sometimes, the universe gets its act together and delivers precisely the sort of read you want the most. I'd been feeling pretty "meh" about my current reads, and my "meh" mood continued through a little bit of the beginning of Lainey. I love me some unlikable heroines, and while Lainey is not a hideous evil witch, or anything, you can see she's got some things to work out. She's popular, sporty, and a bit shallow, but as you read this book, you (and she) find out there's a lot more too her. I ended up adoring her and her transformation, but what really got me to fall in total, flaily fangirl love with this book was... you guessed it... THE SHIP.
So through slightly convoluted means, Lainey and her adorable best friend, Bianca (who is Mexican, yayyyy) decide to use the classic guide to strategy The Art of War to get back Lainey's boyfriend, Jason. Part of this involves fake dating a boy to make him jealous. I LOVE the fake dating trope. I loved it in Faking It, I loved it in Across a Star-Swept Sea, and I love it in The Art of Lainey. Micah, a guy who works at Lainey's parents' cafe with her, has just been dumped by his girlfriend. They decide to fake date for the summer in the hopes that it will drive their exes wild with jealousy and back into their waiting arms. But oh, of course Micah and Lainey have CHEMISTRY an you GUYSSSS I flopped around on my beach like a beached fish and made all kinds of NOISES.
|GPOY while reading Lainey|
Dead. DEAD FROM CUTE. MUCH ADORABLE. VERY SQUEE. I SHIPS IT. THE CUTE. Micah and Lainey seemingly have nothing in common. He's got a mohawk, piercings, tattoos. He smokes. He's alternative (though he bakes. HE BAKES. HE'S A PUNK BAKER). Lainey is a soccer star who likes to run. She's upbeat, she's popular, she has super shiny hair. They don't like each other, and they frequently insult each other.
This is what shipping dreams are made of, you guys.
|Another GPOY while reading Lainey|
So yeah. Adorable things happen. What I love about Micah and Lainey is that they were so atypical. They bantered entirely like themselves, and they went on very unique dates and were just SO ADORABLE. They both have little quirks and flaws that make them imperfect but also perfect for each other. The personal way he chooses to surprise her... and the way they try to cheer each other up... and GAH
There is so much to love in this book. Lainey's friendship with her best friend Bianca is really sweet and genuine and healthy. It's so refreshing how completely drama-free and sincere their bond is, even if I did wish Bianca could have been in the story even more than she was.And then there's Lainey's mom, who isn't in this book a lot but definitely shows up at the right moments and is supportive and slightly kooky in just the best way.
But best of all, Lainey grows tremendously, and it's a joy to read. The character growth is magnificent, and it's the kind of growth a lot of kids can relate to. Now, I was not a Lainey in high school. Sure, I didn't know completely who I was at seventeen, because who does, but I had my own passions and obsessions and more of a sense of self than she does at the start.
It suddenly occurs to me that I don't seem to know very much about... me. It's a weird feeling, like maybe a stranger is inhabiting my body. Or maybe a stranger was, and I kicked her out.
I love that Stokes took a risk with Lainey, making her a very flawed girl who we can see is making the wrong choices. And it's about watching her learn to make the right ones and gain some real confidence in herself.
So yeah, I'm not very much like Lainey, though I did play soccer in high school. (I know. I actually used to run. For fun. I was a different person.)That's why I was a bit thrown when Lainey mentioned scoring the state championship goal in May. When I played, it was a winter sport, meaning the season was from around November to February. Maybe in Missouri it's not? I don't know. ETA: Yep, in Hazelton it would be a spring sport. JUST IGNORE ME. Also I think I have one or two niggles with Kendall's character, but I understood her as a foil for Lainey and a sort of opposite influence as Bianca.
But oh my God, this book made me happy. Deeply, sincerely happy. This is just the sort of adorable-with-some-substance contemporary I live for. Funny, lively, sweet, and PACKED with swoons. I can't even word because Micah and Lainey forever, you guys. Give this book a chapter or two and it just might steal your heart forever.