Published by HarperTeen on May 20th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
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<p>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 warning, 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.</p>
<p>And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're 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.</p>
<p>What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?</p>
As a big fan of Fiona Paul’s Secrets of the Eternal Rose series, a beautifully written historical fiction series with romance and mystery, I was more than ecstatic to find the author had a contemporary fiction novel publishing under the name Paula Stokes!
Back in March I had a guest post with Paula Stokes about character flaws. At the time, I had yet to start this novel but I was intrigued by the post because character flaws can make or break a book for readers and everyone seems to respond to those flaws differently. So when I opened up The Art of Lainey on my Kindle, I was honestly not sure what to expect of our main character. Lainey begins the novel by getting dumped, publicly, by her boyfriend. And she takes it hard. With the help of her best friend Bianca, or Bee as she calls her, she comes up with a plan to try and get him back using The Art of War, by the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, as inspiration. The thing about Lainey is, she didn’t really know her own worth or who she was without her ex-boyfriend. During the course of their relationship she let herself get wrapped up in his world, with his friends. She embraced the popularity and the lifestyle she earned from it. The breakup wasn’t just a loss of someone she ‘loved’, to her it was a fear to also lose that lifestyle she had become accustomed to, of the unknown on what her Senior year would bring. And I think that is Lainey’s flaw. She could be a little fake and superficial. But I think that is part of why I loved her character. Inside she was just someone who was unsure of herself. She needed this break to step back and look at her life and what she had become. To open herself up to new possibilities. To find what was real.
Throughout Lainey’s journey we find some great relationships. The friendship between Lainey and Bee is one I adored. Bee was a truly amazing friend, the type of friend who was willing to help Lainey with whatever she wanted and needed but also one who could challenge Lainey to think about what she was doing without pushing her away. It was a very positive and healthy friendship and one Lainey needed at this time in her life. And of course there was Micah! Never have I been so attracted to a person, er character, with a mohawk! lol Lainey and Micah agreed to help each other win back their exes by faking a burgeoning relationship and going on public dates. And these two couldn’t have been more different, on the outside at least. Micah hung with a different crowd, but you couldn’t let his appearance fool you. He was crazy sweet and all around amazing. He was someone who was very dedicated to his family, his job and love for baking. A guy after my own heart right there! I loved his playfulness when he’d take innocent jabs at Lainey to get a reaction out of her. He was a huge reason I had a hard time setting this book down when real life was demanding my attention. Even though I was rooting for him and Lainey, I couldn’t help but admired his longing for his ex. It showed us a sensitive side to him to go along with that playfulness and edge. Basically, Micah has now become one of my favorite book boyfriends! Swoony, sweet, funny yet with a bad boy flavor, what is there not to like?
Whenever Lainey and Micah were together on the pages a huge smile would light up my face. By far my favorite parts of the novel were the dates between Micah and Lainey. These dates they took each other on truly pushed them both out of their comfort zones, from pancakes at a torture house to dancing at a club. But you know what? They both embraced it with often hilarious consequences as well as eye-opening ones. So much fun!
Everything about this book was exactly what I enjoy in a contemporary read – relatable characters, great friendships, and swoony moments all combined with good fun and a little side of angst. I am deeply impressed with Paula Stokes ability to once again write a book that got me hook, line and sinker!