The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Publication Date: May 20th 2014
Source: HarperTeen [Edelweiss]
Not many books over the past few months have kept me up late reading - mainly because I seem to be in a huge slump - but The Art of Lainey is one of those books. I started reading it about half 9/10-ish and the next thing I knew I was finished and it was 1am. I was so engrossed in the story that I didn't realise how late it was!
The Art of Lainey follows our main character - Lainey - who has just been dumped by her boyfriend Jason in the middle of the coffee shop she works in. Lainey had no idea this was coming and she's in shock. Lainey decides she wants to win Jason back. Lainey and her awesome best friend, Biana, check the internet for tips and Bianca comes up with the idea to use The Art of War and adapt it. Lainey persuades her co-worker Micah to pretend to be her new boyfriend to make Jayson jealous. But the more they pretend, the more real Lainey's feelings for Micah become. Lainey has to figure out who she really is and what she truly wants.
Lainey was an extremely interesting character. To begin with, I didn't know if I was going to like her because she came across as shallow, self-centered and she really only cared about what other people would think of her as without Jason. So there were times when Lainey's personality grated on my nerves, but Lainey's character development was fantastic. The longer she is without Jason, the more she starts to realise she doesn't actually know herself very well. Lainey begins to discover who she is without Jason and really grows into herself. She becomes a much smarter, more likeable and stronger character. By the end of the book, I absolutely loved Lainey.
When I first met Jason in the book, I wanted to punch him for being such a dick. And my feelings towards him never changed one bit. Lainey revealed a bit of how Jason treated her when they were together, and even though she didn't seem to notice anything bad about his behaviour (to begin with), his attitude and the way he spoke to her kept building my hate for him. I couldn't believe Lainey wanted to win such an asshole back.
Bianca - Lainey's best friend - was such an amazing character. Bianca was such a supportive and devoted friend - she would do anything for Lainey. She's always there for Lainey offering her advice and helping her. I completely adored their friendship. Kendall (Jason's sister) is also one of Lainey's best friends, and in all honesty, I had absolutely no idea why Lainey was friends with her. All Kendall seemed to do was put down Lainey and Bianca, and was totally focused on image over everything else. She was a complete bitch.
And then we have Micah. Oh, Micah. The second I met Micah, I knew I was going to love him. He's a bad boy, but he loves to cook! Could he be anymore perfect? Micah has his own problems to deal with as well - he's mending his heart after his girlfriend broke up with him, and he's also still dealing with his guilt over his father's murder. Micah was such a kind, caring, hilarious and understanding character. He had so many layers and I loved discovering them all. He may look like a bad boy (a sexy bad boy at that), but he's really just the sweetest guy ever.
Lainey and Micah's relationship was the main thing I loved about this book. They've know each other since they were really young, but haven't spoken properly in years because they run in different circle. It warmed my heart to see them interacting and actually starting to become friends. It was lovely to see Lainey shed her shallow attitude when she with him and just be herself. The chemistry between these two characters was so strong that even I felt it! The scene in The Devil's Door? Holy hell. Even I wanted to jump Micah, or shove Lainey at him and make them get together because I needed them to get together!
The ending was perfect. Lainey had grown so much from the beginning of the book and she finally knew who she really was. The ending also just showed yet again how sweet Micah is and that he would also do anything for Lainey. Although everything wrapped up so nicely and there would be no need for another book, I can't help but want another! I just need more Micah and Lainey, but I know there isn't really anything left to explore with them. So I'll just have to re-read The Art of Lainey over and over again!
Overall, The Art of Lainey is possibly the best contemporary I've read this year. It had everything: brilliant character development; a swoon-worthy guy; amazing relationships and a fantastic and hilarious storyline. I loved everything about this book and I can't wait to read more from Stokes now!