Friday, May 16, 2014

Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Release date: May 20th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: No
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.


  1. Not sure where you grew up, so that may factor into when you played soccer. Here in IL, soccer was in the fall and the spring, so I think Stokes may have it right for soccer in Missouri. :)

    Great review, Gillian! I'm still reading this book but I agree that Micah and Lainey are absolutely squee-worthy.

    1. Yep, I was wrong about the soccer. :) I keep forgetting other parts of the country have, you know, WEATHER! Yay for the squeeing over Micah and Lainey!

  2. HE'S A PUNK BAKER??? Okay, I want to read this book even more now. No one mentioned the punk baker part.

    This is such a lovely review! I can really feel the squee! I'm dying to read this, seriously, the ship sounds so good! And I just really like the sound of Lainey's growth as a character, and her friendship with Bianca and everything.

    1. He's a punk baker. YES INDEED. Hope you love!

  3. I'll admit I wasn't entirely convinced I wanted to read The Art of Lainey. But your enthusiasm for this ship? And the fact that it sounds super cute? I definitely feel like I'm more convinced to give it a try now. After all, who can resist an adorable ship in an adorable romance? Certainly not this girl ;)

  4. Haha your gifs!!!! I love them, especially Charlotte! Your reviews are always such fun. Lots of excitement! I'm all about banter and baking and squeeing, so Lainey sounds perfect. I've been in a contemporary mood this month :)

  5. YAY, we are review buddies almost! Also, you totally devoured this, but it's so devourable. It's like a molten lava cake. You can't just STOP. You have to eat it all RIGHT NOW.

    How did I fail to mention the fake dating trope? Reviewing is hard. Anyway, it's the best of tropes along with hate to love and gender bending. Which is why Coffee Prince is the best thing ever because HELLO ALL THREE TROPES.

    so yeah, Micah and Lainey are delightfully flawed. I love that I didn't super love them individually, but together OMG THE SHIPPING AND THE FEELS. Also, I like that they're a couple that doesn't "make sense" and though I don't see them together forever they're PERFECT for the last year of high school. Oh also that even when they like each other, they banter and mock one another mercilessly. HELLO MY SHIP.

  6. I WANT THIS BOOK NOW. This is the 5th review I've seen that has spoken of its awesomeness!

  7. Agreed on all counts! Bianca's character bugged me a little at first because celebrity-obsessed and all that, but then I realized I was disliking her for stuff I didn't need to and everything was good. I've been out of my tabloid/celebrity phase for so long that I forget I ever had it and that some people are just really into celebrities. Whooooops. Bad Ashleigh is very bad.



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