Monday, May 19, 2014

YA Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

The Art of Lainey - by Paula Stokes

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)

The story picks up with the main character Lainey (popular girl and soccer player), who appeared to have her whole summer and senior year planned out, getting dumped by her popular boyfriend. And Jason isn't just a popular jock, no, he's also her first serious boyfriend and the older brother of one of her best friends! Well, what is a girl to do when her perfect life and all her plans seem to be crumbling around her? Wage a war to get him back of course!
The Art of Lainey is a fun, quick, and surprisingly layered YA Contemporary Romance read. I truly enjoyed getting wrapped up in Lainey's world, and feeling sixteen again, and breezed through the book in a day. This book is a sure win with fans of the YA Contemporary Romance genre, those who love a good breakup story, and fans of authors like Sarah Dessen, Jennifer Echols, Janette Rallison, and Susane Colasanti.
It's hard to figure out where to begin - I can honestly say that I found this book to be a unexpected and refreshing treat. I knew I would enjoy the book, but I didn't realize that I would enjoy it so much or find a book that took some tried and true plot pieces and made them feel original and new.
One thing that immediately stood out to me were the content and emotions of the story. I felt it was very realistic, and brought me right back to high school, being sixteen, and dealing with all the issues that go along with it: finding yourself, friendships, relationships, and breakups. I liked that the story was more than simply a romance, that it was also a coming of age story - it was about learning who you are and how to accept that person, it was about looking at the world around you with fresh eyes. Lainey had to learn to look beyond appearances and pre-conceived notions, she also had to learn about who she really was and what truly mattered to her. This really added depth to the story - the character growth and change we get to read about over the course of the novel.
I really liked the characters in this book - I was very pleased that each character felt well-developed, and that you got to see a glimpse of the meaning behind who they are and the choices they make. One thing that definitely stood out for me was the fact that the author chose to take the time to create 3 dimensional characters, all around and not just create "stock" bad guys and good. Even the Lainey's ex, Jason, is shown in this way - yes he's a teenage guy, yes he makes bad decisions, but he is not shown as a bad guy.
My favorite characters by far had to be Bianca (Lainey's best friend from childhood) and Micah (a boy who works with Lainey, and known her since they were kids). Both characters were fantastic in their own ways, and I enjoyed seeing them help Lainey to grow and also seeing their growth throughout the story as well. One thing that definitely stood out to me were some of the physical descriptions - I liked seeing some variety in the characters. Bianca is described as being pretty, but curvy and not super-appearance/fashion conscious. Micah has an alternative-punk type look, but despite being a main male character was not all "built" or super tan, he just sounded normal. Lainey herself, despite being a popular girl, is not described as perfect but instead is athletically built, strong, tall and with normal skin, etc. She's a bit of a tomboy but also has a feminine side she embraces as well, she's assertive but also insecure and unsure of herself at times. It was nice to see some variety - no super skinny, perfect teeth, hair, eyes, size etc.
I absolutely loved the friendship between Bianca and Lainey, it was a strong female friendship that endured over time. It was refreshing to see, and it was also nice to see this in contrast to Lainey's friendship with her other best friend Kendall.
I think one of the strong suits of this book is that it touches on universal issues, I think everyone will be able to find some part to relate to: the friendships, the identity issues, the relationships. It was great to see a book that tackled all these and made it feel real, I also enjoyed the fact that the book went about the changes slowly. A unique touch was the use of The Art of War, woven throughout the story.
Normally, this would be the part where I lay the wishes on you...however, I didn't really have any with this book. I really enjoyed it start to finish, and for me - it worked.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book - I read it in one day, and stayed up waaaay too late to finish it. It's one I hope to get my younger sibling (who is in high school) to read, I think it touches on a lot of great topics and would be a great read for her and her friends. So, if you're looking for a fun, realistic, Contemporary YA read - look no further, give The Art of Lainey a try.

What Happened To Goodbye - Sarah Dessen
Stealing Heaven - Elizabeth Scott
Dare You To - Katie McGarry
Summer State of Mind - Jen Calonita
When It Happens - Susane Colasanti

Rating - 

5 out of 5 Doxies - Loved it, definitely a reread and own it book!


  1. I am so excited to read this one and it sounds so awesome, especially when you refer to it like a refreshing treat!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    1. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did - I thought it was really well done. I was especially pleased with the friendship component and how the author portrayed Lainey's growth (confession: I really did not find Lainey likable in the beginning, but I appreciated her more and more as she grew). Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I wasn't sure that I wanted to read this book until I read your review! It sounds cute, and a I like a refreshing contemporary romance.

    1. I hope you get to read it soon and that you enjoy it as much as I did! I really think this author had a unique approach, I appreciated her willingness to create flawed characters that you might not like at first glance. Thank you so much for stopping by!