by Kelly Fiore
To be published by Walker Children's
on June 22, 2014
Source: thanks to Bloomsbury for allowing me to read an advanced copy
Synopsis from Goodreads: Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson. Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend. While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques? Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.
My take: Overall, I enjoyed Just Like the Movies, a book that gently pokes fun at the way girls and women have unrealistic romantic expectations from watching rom coms (and reading romantic books?) The story is told from two POV's. Marijke Morris is a track star with an adorable musician boyfriend. But she's not happy -- she's insecure in her relationship and, as a result, hasn't made some important life decisions, like where she's going to college. Lily doesn't want to be anything like her mom, a single mother who's still looking for Mr. Right, and bringing home a lot of Mr. Wrongs in the process. Lily worships a guy at school from afar, but isn't able to muster up the courage to talk to him.
When the two girls -- who move in different social circles -- meet at a movie theater, they decide to join forces and use rom com techniques to fix their love lives. This scheme isn't a huge part of the book, but I did think that the story did a good job of examining something that's a rom com staple: the Big Romantic Gesture. The BRG, exemplified by things like Lloyd Dobler and his boom box, is something that's dreamed about by girls and disparaged by guys. The book cleverly weaves the BRG into the story by way of a sub-category of BRGs, the OTTPI (Over the Top Prom Invitation.) At my high school, way back in time, the OTTPI was a Thing and I guess they are still a Thing at some high schools - who knew? But in any case, I thought the book did a great job of looking at the way that women and men often expect different types of romantic gestures in a relationship, and the conflict that can ensue.
As for Marijke and Tommy's relationship, I had serious doubts about it and kept flip-flopping back and forth about whether I thought he should ditch her or vice versa. I think it was a realistic relationship, but one that got on my nerves at times. I loved Lily's character the most, but also had a few doubts about her studious girl/hot guy relationship. I mean, do those ever really exist in real life? But in the end, I enjoyed the dual POV, enjoyed the friendship they developed, and found Just Like the Movies to be an entertaining summer read.