I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Also by this author: Liars, Inc.
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-05-20
Genres: Dating & Sex, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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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
You know how you read a book and you can feel summer all wrapped up in it and then you close it and sigh and think to yourself, why yes, this was a perfect representation of a season and I love it and want all my friends to read it because it is my new favorite? Don’t lie, you’re reading this blog so I know that you have been in that exact situation yourself. A few years ago, for me, that book was My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. This year, that book is The Art Of Lainey by Paula Stokes. Oh my goodness you guys, I am like overflowing with love and words and thoughts for this awesome contemporary book. Like I am at the point where I am going to shove it into one of my co-blogger’s hands.
Paula Stokes is like a crafty puppetmaster, I swear to god. First off, she has my total attention with her Secrets Of The Eternal Rose trilogy, like my total investment and satisfaction. And then when I was like ohhh, hmmmm, what do I read next to replicate these feels, a few books later, I pick up The Art Of Lainey which is in a totally different genre and begin feeling like I am on a string in that I was so addicted and attached to this novel. I cannot right now. Okay, so The Art Of Lainey opens with main character Lainey working at the coffee shop her parents own. She has a really bad feeling when her boyfriend Jason shows up and asks for a cup of water, but Lainey ignores it. Wrong choice. Jason’s there to dump her in front of the restaurant. Lainey cannot figure out why, she and Jason had the perfect relationship. They are wedding cake topper people.
With the help of her best friend Bianca, Lainey uses her summer reading book, The Art Of War by Sun Tzu to formulate a strategy. Lainey will use an ancient Chinese warlord’s battle strategy for her modern day issues. As they say, all is fair in love and war. And so, Lainey begins to use one of her coworkers, Micah, a mohawked and tattooed boy to make Jason, a super all-American type jealous. Micah has also experienced a recent breakup with this girl named Amber. Will Lainey’s strategy work? Will she get what she wants or will she find that maybe what she thought she wanted and what she actually needs are two different things? HMMMMM.
You know how like most book bloggers are all F YEAH CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT when they come across character development in books? That was totally me while I was sucked into the pages of The Art Of Lainey. When we start the book, Lainey is really a solid character. Like, she has this personality and she seems like a person we all actually know, but also someone we can totally relate to and see ourselves in her situation. She has no clue why Jason would dump her and is so fixated on him because them being together is the way that things are supposed to be. They fit together so perfectly. Then, the book progresses. Lainey begins trying new things as a result of her fake dates. She tries new music. She goes to a play. She realizes that hey, maybe she doesn’t know everything about herself and so, like, she becomes open leaving her routine and expanding her horizons. The way it’s done in the book is so artful and subtle and perfect. I just really loved how Lainey gives different things a chance, even though she’s totally reluctant at first. I also have to mention that I love how Lainey is into makeup and hair, but also into playing soccer. I love that she’s a popular girl, yet friendly to people who are not in her social circle.
Speaking of all these Lainey elements, I want to break down MORE elements of the book that I loved. First off, there’s soccer and while I am not like a huge soccer fan or anything, I loved that Lainey was so into it. I loved that her love of the sport went beyond liking it because of her boyfriend. I liked that she had a passion for the game and being on a team. It’s something she cares very, very deeply about and so, it was so cool reading about it. I feel like I don’t read enough about sports in contemporary YA, especially sports when they are important to the story but not the whole story, you know what I mean?
Moving on, there’s another element I loved and that is Lainey’s teammate and best friend Bianca. Y’all, Bianca wants to go to med school and she’s so smart and determined. She also is very close to her family. She’s not always at Lainey’s beck and call but she is a true friend. She’s actually really great and I loved her character. Trust, if you want to see teenage girl friendship done right without a hint of frenemy you will love the friendship between Lainey and Bianca.
Now, as for frenemy friendships, let’s be real, many of us felt that as teens and so, this element makes an appearance in the story with the appearance of Kendall. Kendall is Lainey’s other best friend. She’s like a cyclone. She’s very pushy and like, her mom is a model. Kendall is off screen for most of the book, as she’s on a reality model TV show in New York. Yet, when she makes her appearance, she’s bulldog fierce. Oh and also, she’s Jason’s sister. Anyways, this girl walks that line between friend and frenemy and well, I think she’s got some character growth coming to her.
I would be doing you all a disfavor if I did not mention Denali. Denali is the coffeehouse where Lainey works with Bianca and Micah. Lainey is front of the house, meaning she takes orders, rings people out and more. Micah is back of the house, meaning he does the baking and such. Anyways, Lainey’s parents own Denali. It is managed by this girl she doesn’t like, Ebony. So yeah, I guess what I am saying is I loved reading about Lainey working at Denali and the food there and the interactions. It’s such a cool element.
Now what you’ve all been waiting for, an assessment of Micah. Listen don’t act like I am spoiling you, you pretty much knew from the book description that the while Lainey and Micah are doing the fake dating thing to win back their exes, that at least one of them was going to catch feelings for the other. This happens in pretty much every fake boyfriend/fake fiance movie and book ever. It’s not some giant surprise. I will say that the way that Paula Stokes executes it is perfect and delicious. Like, I already knew what was going to happen, I have a twitter and a brain, but I was still super invested. I was shipping Micah and Lainey from the very beginning. The two meet some of my favorite relationship ship tropes — they are friends but they antagonize each other, they have a past, they are total opposites. I LOVE ALL THAT. And oh man, when Lainey starts to catch those feelings, you swoon right along with her. The progression is perfectly written and timed. I cannot seriously say enough good things about the feels and the swoons and the kissing. For real, Paula Stokes has it all down to an art.
Speaking of which that’s kind of the end of this review but I want to bullet point talk about some elements that I didn’t get to, but really loved:
- The torture cafe and PANCAKES, I wanted this food to pop off the page and be real
- Trinity, Micah’s little sister is the best
- All the scenes at Beat, the teen dance club, LOLOLOLOL
- The St. Louis Cardinals and the love of St. Louis
- The scenes involving music
- Caleb Waters, again lots of LOLOLOLOLOL
- The writing and the pacing are SPOT ON BALLS ACCURATE
- Leo, a side character who plays a minor but important role
- Lainey’s mom, who is supportive and sex positive and has a phD in Anthropology and teaches at the local college
- Lainey’s brother Steve who is always off page but has a role that I liked as well
Really you guys, if you get to the end of this review, you might as well read The Art Of Lainey at this point.