“But I have to tell someone:
I love him.
I still love him, now more than ever.
And it’s killing me!
He is killing me. Every time he says my name, or looks my way, every time he laughs, even if he’s only telling one of his stupid jokes about his parents’ idiotic World’s Greatest Grandparents mugs, he is taking my heart, pulling it out of my chest, crumpling it into a little ball, and stuffing it into his pocket, as casually as if it were a napkin he’d used to wipe his mouth.” ~ The Boy is Back
The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot is a FABULOUS novel! I was tempted at first to only give it 4 stars because it isn’t my favourite chick lit. novel of the year so far (that award must go to Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, which is going to be a tough novel to beat, honestly), but then I thought to myself, wait a second, this novel was fun, funny, addictive, entertaining, romantic and well-written, so what more would it have to do to earn 5 stars? Nothing, absolutely nothing, so a 5-star rating it deserves!
Let’s start with the obviously awesome things about this novel…
~ The title. I love it! There’s something so simple yet emotional about it – four little words convey something profound and yet so mundane. The “boy”, in this case prodigal son Reed Stewart, has returned to his hometown of Bloomville, Indiana, and this seemingly everyday occurrence shakes up protagonist Becky Flowers’ life irreversibly. I was intrigued by the title the moment I read it, and I knew at once that this story would be nostalgic and sentimental and delicious!
~ The cover. How beautiful is it? (Check out my Goodreads page to see it!) The bright yellow is what caught my attention when I saw it in the store, and it is just so fresh and lively that I couldn’t resist picking the book up. It just screams that it is the perfect summer read, which it is!
~ The format. Written entirely through text messages, emails, newspaper articles and other forms of social media, this novel is truly unique. After flipping through a few pages in the store once I picked the book up, I was immediately interested in finding out whether or not a story written in this format could be detailed and deep enough. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the novel is not only highly readable, but also very complex and intricate. At times, I have to admit, I did crave a bit of prose, but that was somewhat delivered in the form of journal entries by Becky. I also think the fact that I wished there was a bit more classic narrative in the novel stems from the fact that I fell so deeply in love with the characters (more on this in a second), that I just wanted more of them, as much more as I could get. While some people might find it to be a failing on the part of the novel that I craved more, I definitely think it’s a sign of the opposite! The only criticism I have of this choice of format is that in some cases the texts and emails were a touch unrealistic, in that the characters wrote such detailed messages about things that you would assume the two parties conversing would already know. This is really the only way that the reader could get any backstory though, and I’m choosing to overlook it because the texts were otherwise very charming to read and I was impressed by how distinct and diverse each character’s voice and writing style was.
Okay, so that leads me to the subtly amazing aspects of this novel…
First of all, the characters are brilliant and rival some of my all-time favourite chick lit. characters for my affections. Finally, since reading The Hating Game a few months ago, I found a new couple to root for and swoon over. Becky is adorable and endearing, but also fiercely confident and a strong, professional business woman. She came across as someone I could easily be friends with, and many of her texts reminded me of messages of my own that I’ve sent to my best friends. We, as readers, are also intimately exposed to a number of different characters because we read their private messages and emails, and I found every single character fascinating and entertaining in their own way. I adored the marital banter of Carly and Marshall, I thought Trimble was annoying but also hilarious in her anxieties and obsessions, and the Stewart parents, as well as Becky’s mom Beverly, were an absolute treat! There wasn’t one character that annoyed me, and I never found myself reading a section that I wasn’t interested in because I liked all of the characters equally. Cabot really did a fine job of making me feel invested in the lives of her characters, both main and supporting.
My heart really does rest with Reed Steward though, the hero of the story. Oh man, have I ever developed a book crush on him! (Why does this keep happening to me with fictional characters?!) There’s nothing quite like reading the personal texts and emails of a handsome, dashing and adorable man in love. I think Cabot nailed Reed’s voice because I felt as though he almost jumped off the page at times, his voice was so clear and distinct. He also says some of the sexiest things to Becky, but they are never cheesy, cliché or heavy-handed. He flirts very subtly, and Cabot expertly establishes a rapport between her two main characters that the reader gets quickly swept up into. And, I mean, a man who can quote Jane Austen on the fly – my heart flutters just thinking about it!
I HIGHLY recommend The Boy is Back because it was by far the best book I’ve read in recent weeks. I am so so glad I picked it up when I did, to give me a cheery disposition as the warm weather gets into full swing, and I am absolutely going to read more of Cabot’s work as soon as possible. If you’re looking for a unique and meaningful but fun and enjoyable romance, pick this book up!
❥❥❥❥❥ (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart