Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson.
Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend.
While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?
Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.
Any book that starts with a re-enactment of the infamous boom box scene from Say Anything is a winner for me. The opening set the tone for the book, and I was hooked from page one.
Marijke, a high school senior, is a hurdler for her high school’s track team. She’s on her way to the state meet where she is a favorite to win. She’s been with her boyfriend Tommy for a year now, yet she still has trouble trusting him. Tommy is one of the hottest boys in school and is the lead guitarist in his band. Hot plus rocker means he is on the radar of nearly every girl in the school. So when Tommy seems to be less than forthcoming in his whereabouts and texts, and the fact that he hasn’t even bothered to ask her to prom, Marijke can only assume the worst. After a year together, Marijke is ready to profess her love to Tommy, however she is waiting for him to say it first. The question: Is she willing to wait around long enough for him to get around to it?
Lily volunteers for everything and is the lovable loser that every high school seems to have. She exists on the periphery, not really friends with anyone; most people don’t even know her name. So when she bumps into a crying Marijke one night at a movie theater and the two form a bond over the heartache of not being asked to prom, they hatch a plan to show Tommy just how much Marijke loves him, and to get Joe, a hot motocross racer, to notice Lily. In order to do that, they have decided to re-enact some of their favorite scenes from movies, hence the boom box scene from Say Anything. They quickly find out though, that real life and the movies are two different worlds, and real life rarely turns out the way it’s planned.
I liked the characters of both Lily and Marijke. Ms. Fiore did an excellent job of capturing the essence of the personalities of two well-known high school stereotypes. We’ve all known the nerdy/school paper/volunteer and the jock types and know that friendship doesn’t always follow a formula. It was a little predictable at times, and it did feel a little like a mash-up of several John Hughes movies from the ‘80s, but it was a fun escape for a couple of hours. This is not life changing prose, but it is good for quick, feel good, pick me up.
I wish perhaps there had been a little more depth to how the movies played a part in their plan, and maybe a little more cultivation of the friendship between Lily and Marijke. I was a little frustrated with Marijke’s character at times, with her constant self doubt, but at the same time, I understand what the author was trying to accomplish with trying to buck the stereotypes, such as confidence, that come with popularity. Lily, even though she is the timid, mousy one, seemed to have a lot more of a backbone, likely because she had less to lose in the big picture.
Just Like the Movies is a cute, quirky, fun read. I don’t normally read a lot of YA, I gravitate more towards NA because I like things a little “spicier”, but this one was a lot of fun. I would have no problem allowing my 10 year old, that is an advanced reader, read this one as there is no sex and the language is pretty PG. It would definitely be a fun beach/vacation read. It is well written and the characters are fun and I can see a little bit of myself in both of them.
Christina is a Seattle native currently living in the DC area with her sailor husband and two kids. She spends her days lost in books, waiting for the day when she can finally get back to the Evergreen State, or better yet, traveling the world with her husband. She can be found reading and reviewing for Love Between the Sheets. http://www.readlovelust.com