Fox on Books

Book reviews, opinions, musings and ramblings. General bookish excitement!

The Book of Luke – by Jenny O’Connell

imageHoliday time – you know what that means! Beach reads. Vacation fare. Quintessential chick/YA books that are light, fluffy, and preferably not at all challenging! I was also looking for books I could leave behind on my travels when I finished with them, to lighten my luggage load. I read The Book of Luke on a train between Venice and Innsbruck for an easy holiday read – and here’s what that was like:
Emily’s always been the nice girl. The brain, who’s focused on getting into a great college, and hasn’t got time for any of that “Standing up for yourself” nonsense. But when her boyfriend dumps her on the SAME DAY her parents are moving the family out of town against her wishes, the same day, too, that her Dad announces he’s not coming with them, Emily starts thinking it might be time to stop being so nice.
Moving back to her old town means Emily reconnects with her old friends, and one of them has just been callously dumped by her boyfriend too – by email, no less. The girls hatch a scheme: to create a guidebook for future generations about what not to do when dating an awesome girl. Using the ex, Luke, as a guinea pig for research purposes, and getting to dump him as hard as he dumped Emily’s friend when they’re done with him? Well, call that a perk.
Have you guys seen John Tucker Must Die? The 2006 movie starring Brittany Snow and Jesse Metalfe (and a super cute Penn Badgley)? Then, to be honest, you really don’t need to read The Book of Luke. I know that sounds harsh (“Way harsh, Tai.”) but I kept coming back to this movie while I read O’Connell’s novel. This book is just okay. It’s nothing you haven’t seen, or read, before.
Emily’s a bit of a frustrating character. Like so many girl protagonists in YA before her, she gets sick of being the quiet girl and overcompensates by being kind of a bitch over the course of the novel, before reigning it in after a wake up call near the end of the book. I know, I should probably be saying ‘spoiler alert’ here – but I don’t think there’s many spoilers to be had with a book like this.
The Book of Luke deals with a bunch of familiar teen issues: growing up and what that means. Discovering that your parents aren’t perfect, and that not everything they do is about you. Realising that guys think and act based on the same principles that girls do, and aren’t, in fact, an alien species. Leaving people behind, and being left behind yourself, and how hard that can be. All of these are worthy subjects. The only thing is that I’ve seen them too many times before – and seen them handled a lot better.
Unfortunately, this is one of those books I can’t recommend. It was perfectly okay. But it’s not something I think I benefited from reading, and not something I’d ever read again. If you’re after great coming of age YA, I’d offer alternative suggestions such as Looking For Alibrandi, The Duff, Bridget Jones’ Diary (because let’s face it, Bridge is still trying to grow up), or The Perks of Being A Wallflower. And hey, John Tucker Must Die is a pretty great/awful chick flick if you want to get the gist of The Book of Luke!
two fox
I hate doing negative reviews, but sometimes it’s got to be done. Have you read any just okay/underwhelming books lately?

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