The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

The Art of Lainey by Paula StokesThe Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

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

Well, well, well, wasn’t this a surprisingly enjoyable read? I went into The Art of Lainey knowing precisely two things: 1) it’s a contemporary novel, and 2) it’s about a girl who takes advice from The Art of War. Of course I was intrigued, but I went into the book with certain reservations.

First of all, I was expecting Lainey to annoy me to no end with her strategy to win back the guy who dumped her. That kind of storyline is usually frustrating, because I tend to spend the majority of the time rolling my eyes at the main character while she jumps through hoops to win back a guy who is really no good for her. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by how the whole situation is handled in this book. Sure, Lainey is trying to win back her boyfriend, but she’s very strategic and intelligent about it, and along the way she learns a lot about herself. I thought this aspect of the storyline worked very well with Lainey’s character development, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Micah is the guy that Lainey is using to make her ex-boyfriend jealous. He’s in on the whole plan, and the pair strike a deal to help each other, so they’re both getting something out of this “war”. Micah is trying to win back his ex-girlfriend (whose name is Amber and, surprisingly, she’s not a bitchy cheerleader), just like Lainey is trying to get Jason to come back to her. Along the way, they grow closer and eventually, of course, they start to fall for each other.

I think Paula Stokes handles the different relationships that are featured in this book very well. Obviously, we have the growing relationship between Lainey and Micah which was a great slow burn/denial type thing, and then there’s the one between Lainey and her awesome best friend, Bianca. Lainey and her mother are also featured a lot in this novel, as well as Lainey’s relationship with her brother, and that’s not even counting those outside of the immediate circle of characters. Stokes has a talent for relationships, I can assure you, and I didn’t feel like the platonic or familial relationships were stunted in favour of the romance between Lainey and Micah.

The Art of Lainey was a little too fluffy for me, however. There were darker themes and subjects and events that were mentioned that I wish had been touched upon more, such as shootings, robberies, losing family members, and hit and runs. I feel like a lot of these were brushed aside and barely dealt with, perhaps in an attempt to keep the book light. It didn’t take much away from my enjoyment of the novel, it’s just something that I noticed while reading and wished could have been more prominent.

But, really, I loved the light and fluffy tone of this novel. Lainey was a great main character who had a few flaws, but she works on them, and it was a fantastic experience to go on this journey with her. I especially loved the planning and strategy stuff, and the advice that was taken from The Art of War, because we all know that I was a warlord in a past life.

The Art of Lainey had me giggling and tearing up, and those are both very important things that enhance my enjoyment of the book. I love a good cry, and when a book is funny enough to make me laugh out loud it means that the author has done a good job. I would definitely recommend The Art of Lainey to those of you who are looking for a quick summer read, especially if you love fluffiness and fake-to-love relationships like I do.

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