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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Lainey Mitchell knows exactly where her summer is going: spending long days with her fabulous boyfriend playing soccer and goofing off. It'll be perfect or it would have been if he hadn't dumped her (in public) at the very beginning of the summer. Determined to win back the love of her life, Lainey gets a copy of The Art Of War and starts strategizing. The best plan, it seems, is to get herself a fake boyfriend to flaunt in front of the ex to make him jealous. But soon Lainey realizes she is having more fun with Micah on their fake dates than she did with Jason on their real ones and she begins to wonder if what she wants is really what she needs.
Initially, I wasn't a big fan of Lainey. She seems to be a rather spoiled and somewhat shallow high school girl. She generally gets what she wants, so when something she wants is taken away, so doesn't really know how to handle it. Once she starts to realize that maybe there is more to what she likes or wants than we initially see, I started to fall in love with her a little bit. While we watch her struggle, you realize that Stokes is part genius for writing this way. What 16 year old girl knows who she is? Knows what she really wants? I loved watching her discover that she enjoyed things she never imagined she would or learn that maybe she doesn't really want Jason back was magical.
Then we have Micah, who I loved almost instantly. Dark, sarcastic, with a love of loud music and a surprisingly kind heart, Micah was clearly the better choice of the two. He obviously cares for her, even if she is too dense to realize it soon enough. The chemistry between these two who seem so ill-matched is off the charts. Micah, though he is mohawked and tattooed, is one of the sweetest guys I've ever read about.
This novel, this right here, is exactly why I started reading contemporary YA again. This was a perfect tale of a young girl finding herself in an age that pushes you to conform to what society thinks you should be. Lainey's journey was one that I couldn't put down. Fifty pages in and I was so hooked I stayed up most of Saturday night to finish it. It has everything I could want, with a sweet romance and a plethora of character growth. Paula Stokes is now on my "must buy list" and I can't wait to get my hands on what she writes next!
****Thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****