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The Sunday Review | the Art of Lainey - Paula Stokes

By Mle_vnc @Backlist_Books
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.
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.
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?
- Goodreads

I was surprised by just how much I liked this book. I discovered it after chatting to the author, Paula Stokes, on Twitter - I loved her sense of humor and figured her book would be more of the same, and that I should give it a try.
At first glance, I didn't think it was my kind of thing. I'm not big on romance, and while I love YA books, I tend towards the ones that have themes or situations that either make the characters more mature than the average teen (such as the characters in The Fault In Our Stars, who are dealing with cancer) or that transcend age (thrillers or dystopian books like Ann Aguirre's Razorland books, where the circumstances are extreme). I'll try a contemporary YA occasionally, but I often find them too immature for a reader my age or just plain frustrating.
So I went into this expecting more of the same, but I haven't tried one for a while and wanted to give it a chance.
Now, I'm not saying there weren't points in the book that I struggled with. Of course there were. But most of the time the things that irritated me were irritating because I'm reading a book about teenagers... and I'm in my 30s. The plot and characters were realistic for their ages, and because of that, I found it wasn't toooooo hard to skim the more teenager-y bits - and more than that, that I didn't feel like the book should have been changed in any way. It was perfect for its intended audience, and it definitely felt genuine.
One of the aspects I really liked was that the book underlines that phase of early-adulthood where you're figuring out who you want to be - and more importantly, who you don't want to be. This is an important part of growing up, and this realization is often the product of some pretty epic mistake-making.Which makes for an interesting read (even if there are times where you find yourself talking to the character, saying things like, "Don't do that! Aw, man, see? I told you not to do that.").
I also really loved the idea of underpinning the plot with The Art of War. Not only because I'm a book lover and it's a book, but because it added an extra dimension to the story that focused and grounded it.
I'd say this is one of those books that is easy to connect with. If you read it as a teenager, you'll relate to the characters. If you aren't, it'll take you right back there, in vivid color. I'd say this is the perfect read for anyone who enjoys YA contemporary, romance, or a really good ship.
Book Title: The Art of Lainey
Author: Paula Stokes
Series: No
Edition: Paperback
Published By: Harper Teen
Released: May 20, 2014
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 376Date Read: March 12-14, 2015
Rating: 8/10

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