Title: Not Exactly a Love Story
Author: Audrey Couloumbis
Published: December 11, 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Got it from NetGalley!
1977. A Not-Very-Good-Year for Vinnie Gold. The parents the thought perfectly happy surprise him by divorcing. Then his mom decides dating his GYM TEACHER is perfectly okay. Then it’s just fine to go and marry the guy, then force Vinnie to leave his beloved Queens for Long Island.
Things are definitely NOT perfectly okay.
Then, Vinnie meets the girl next door.
Patsy is everything you expect of a girl-next-door type. She’s beautiful, popular, smart, and completely oblivious to Vinnie’s existence. Vinnie is completely smitten. And his method of actually, well, talking to her is unusual. To say the least. By a complete stroke of luck, Vinnie gets Patsy’s number. And he calls her. At midnight. Without telling her his name. At first she thinks he’s a complete jerk. Well, he IS a complete jerk, but instantly regrets it and goes about setting things right. It takes time. And patience. And watching the girl of his dreams go out with the biggest jock/loser in the school. What Vinnie does to finally get Patsy to “see” him will take everything he’s got and will lead him to finally become the kind of guy who, well, maybe gets the girl.
I would imagine telling a story from the point of view of a guy, when you’re NOT a guy, can be kind of difaficult. Couloumbis didn’t have any problems. Vinnie felt completely believable to me. His feelings of inadequacy, coupled with his desire to overcome these feelings, were admirable, especially in a YA book. I liked the way Couloumbis handled the divorce and remarriage. Just the right amount of awkwardness and pain. Patsy, despite appearances, isn’t exactly “the girl next door.” Couloumbis spent a lot of time giving her nuance and personality. And Couloumbis’s writing was fresh and witty. My ONLY real problem was the whole calling at midnight plot felt slightly stalkerish. Okay, more than slightly. Despite that, I enjoyed this easy read quite a lot. This Cyrano retelling was fun.
I couldn’t seem to recover from one blow before another followed. No one tells you how things really are. Everything coming in waves, one rolling in after the other, and in case you’re thinking that doesn’t sound so bad, keep this in mind: that’s how huge rocks, boulders, become sand on the beach.