Monday, September 28, 2015

Book Review: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

Some Kind of Wonderful. Sixteen Candles. Say Anything. When Harry Met Sally. Never Been Kissed. I’ve always been a huge fan of quirky romance movies, even if the character dynamics do usually find me screaming at my television set.

To Keith in Some Kind of Wonderful: “You idiot! How can you not see your female best friend has the major hots for you, especially after you ‘practiced’ kissing her in the auto body shop!”

To Ronald “Ronnie" Miller in Can’t Buy Me Love: "Stop getting distracted by all the popular girls falling all over you—the only girl you’ve ever really liked now likes you back and you can’t give her the time of day?”

That end scene at the Olympics in the movie Cutting Edge, where Doug tells Kate he’s in love with her right before they go on the ice, after they've been fighting the entire movie? Completely swoon worthy.

Speaking of swooning, when I first read the premise of Kelly Fiore’s YA romance, Just Like the Movies, I knew it was definitely one to add to my wish list. It did not disappoint—thanks to a rainy weekend, I was able to finish it in one day!

Pretty, popular Marijke Monti and over-achieving nerd-girl Lily Spencer have little in common--except that neither feels successful when it comes to love. Marijke can’t get her boyfriend to say “I love you” and Lily can’t get a boyfriend at all. When the girls end up at a late night showing of Titanic, sniffling along with the sinking ship, they realize that their love lives could--and should--be better. Which sparks an idea: Why can’t life be like a movie? Why can't they create perfect romantic situations? Now they have a budding friendship and a plan--to act out grand gestures and get the guys of their dreams. It seems like fun at first, but reality turns out to be much more complicated, and they didn't take into account that finding true love usually requires finding yourself first.

Tommy’s parents are standing ten feet away from me. I swallow. They don’t look mad, exactly. But they don’t look happy either. How am I supposed to explain this to them? At least, how can I explain it in a way that doesn’t sound completely insane? I consider my options.
I want your son to love me, so I’m acting out movie scenes.
Say Anything is just the beginning. There are a dozen others I’m willing to try.
Haven’t you ever wished you could fall in love like they do on-screen?
I set down the speakers. This is something Lily and I didn’t plan for. It’s ten at night and I’m standing in front of my boyfriend’s parents. If this were a movie, the director would call “Cut!” But this is real life, not a movie set, and there isn’t a script to follow.

The chapters alternate between narrators--Marijke (pronounced MA-RAY-KUH) and Lily. Sometimes this type of format can get repetitive, but Fiore did a good job of weaving the two stories together. I found both characters refreshing, and completely relatable. Most teenage girls are guilty at some point of letting their lives revolve around a boyfriend, and this is the position Marijke finds herself in. Lily just wants her crush, Joe, to notice she’s alive. Because a lot of the movies in this book are more from when I was a teenager (I’m in my late 30s), I have a feeling younger readers will be inspired to have a movie marathon once they finish this book. Just Like the Movies would also make a great mother/daughter read—there’s nothing in the book that a 12-year-old girl or older couldn’t read. Both Tommy (Marijke’s boyfriend) and Joe are adorable and I have a feeling younger readers will fall in love with them, too. I went back and forth with being frustrated with Tommy but then he would redeem himself time and again. The concept of Just Like the Movies is fresh and fast-paced, and will leave you with plenty of ideas to add some spark in your own relationship, if you dare!

Note: Kelly Fiore is the author of Taste Test, which I also recently finished. It's another fun, fresh contemporary YA that takes place on the set of a reality cooking show for teens. I'll post a review of it soon!

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