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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
“I mean, why can’t relationships center around big romantic gestures and sweep-you-off-your-feet moments?”
Uhmm, excuse me?
I liked the premise of this story and the idea of it all, but that one sentence pretty much sums up exactly what I had a problem with JUST LIKE THE MOVIES. This problem was mainly in the beginning, but throughout the entire story I felt like JUST LIKE THE MOVIES was more about superficial love instead of actual love. There were a bunch of little things here and there that I was conflicted about, the “romance should be about big romantic gestures” thing just being one of them.
Another is one of the main issues that a reader sees the second they walk in on this book, starting in the intro and peaking in the beginning.
Marijke is a girl who has a boyfriend that constantly flirts with other girls. She also can’t get him to say, “I love you.” I can understand the “I love you” thing. It’s a big thing that means a lot, and whatever–she just wants him to say it. I would’ve liked it if Marijke acknowledged at least once that the fact that he doesn’t say it might mean that he doesn’t know if he really means that yet, or when he says it he wants to really mean it. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like her, I mean–HE IS HER BOYFRIEND.
It was the constantly flirting with other girls. Marijke, throughout the book, is always either verbally or non-verbally accusing him of cheating, and it isn’t cute or endearing or a display of how much she cares, it’s exhausting. If she really thinks he’s cheating and she can’t trust him for something like not looking at other girls, then why is she dating him? Is it because of how he looks or the feeling of getting used to a relationship? It feels that way to me, contributing to the shallowness and fakeness that appears to be their relationship throughout the book.
This story would’ve been perfect for me if it had ended at page 193. In that time, Marijke grew by leaps and bounds. She realized (in a way) that she’s been a jerk to her boyfriend and she realized that a lot of the time, life isn’t like the movies–but that’s okay. Sometimes better than okay. And she fell in love.
But the story must go on, because there’s one little problem. Her name is Lily.
Lily is crushing on a guy she can never have, completely focused on schoolwork and getting into the college she wants. In meeting Marijke, she decides to go after that guy. They grow closer, and they become friends, but it’s just not meant to be. She becomes heartbroken.
If Lily hadn’t been in the picture, JUST LIKE THE MOVIES would’ve been a completely different story with a completely different rating. I’m not going to say anything about the ending specifically, but I’m conflicted about it. I wouldn’t say that I hated it, but I really disliked it. I felt like it was really anticlimatic and there was nothing that it accomplished except letting the audience know that life is not like the movies, no matter what you try to do–and everyone knows that.
But hey, that’s what I wanted this book to say. Throughout the whole book, I was mad at Marijke for the way she treated Lily and used her and I was mad at Lily for being so easily swayed by Marijke and the people around her. I wanted Lily to become a bigger character not in the sense that she changed but in the sense that she became happy with her circumstances and not pining after someone else’s. I wanted Marijke to get off her high horse and realize life does not revolve around her. More than anything else though, I wanted these characters to realize that life is not like the movies and sometimes when you do things for someone, they don’t react the way you want them to. And hey, they did.
I am happy about that, but I did want more from this story and yes, more from the ending. Some hope, maybe. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book. Instead, I would much rather read NOT IN THE SCRIPT by Amy Finnegan. 2 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 300