All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Ex-Mas – Kate Brian

on November 7, 2010

This was a cheap little fun read that I got for my Kindle. Lila Beckwith is 17 and she’s popular. She’s worked hard be popular, to become the friend of Carly, without a doubt the coolest and most popular girl in school. She’s also dating Eric, Carly’s older brother who is off at college now. Lila knows she is envied for having Eric, for being one of the group and she loves it. Her whole life revolves around it and now that her parents are going away for a couple of days for a vacation, Lila has planned the best party that anyone has ever seen. All she needs is for them to leave already so that she can finish her perfect plans and give everyone the go-ahead to start arriving.

Unfortunately for Lila, her 8yo brother Cooper throws a spanner in the works by spilling the beans to her parents just before they leave that Lila is planning to throw a party. He saw it on her IM chats with her friends and because Lila isn’t particularly nice to him, he really has no reason to keep her secret. So gleefully he informs their parents, who pretty much flip out and threaten Lila with everything they can think of, including taking away the car they’re planning to buy her. They let Lila know that they’ll be ringing in often to check in with her and Lila knows she has to do the unthinkable: cancel her party.

In order to get revenge on Cooper she shows him an article on global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps, letting him know that Santa will probably soon be homeless as the North Pole is on the way out. Later, when she goes to pick Cooper up from his friend Tyler’s house, she finds that both the little boys are gone. A computer open to google maps shows a route being plotted to the North Pole. Lila and Tyler’s older brother Beau, who just happens to be her ex-boyfriend have to try and get the little boys back before they end up too far away and also, before their parents find out that they’ve lost them.

Beau is from a different part of Lila’s life, from before she decided to change her whole personality in an attempt to lever herself up the ladder of popularity and from before she decided to follow the trends. Beau shuns all things popular. He plays guitar, he likes alternative, obscure music and he doesn’t care who likes him or what people think of him. They haven’t spoken since they broke up several years ago and Lila hooked up with Eric right away. Now Lila and Beau have to track down their little brothers who have bought train tickets going north to Seattle (this book is set in California). Of course when they reach the station the train has left so they must try to jump ahead at each station, trying to catch up with the two little boys. This leads to Lila and Beau being stuck in a car together racing north up the American west coast. Trapped together they are forced into talking, forced into discussing what happened to them, what happened to change Lila. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll both still see that the chemistry is there.

Firstly, Lila is not a likable character. She’s not intended to be a likable character. She’s more than just a shallow, popular girl who is concerned only of her looks and her clothes, watching the right tv shows, listening to the right movies, presenting an image to the school body at all times – she’s someone who worked for that, who aspired to it, who wanted it more than anything else. Not only does she leave behind the person she once was, and Beau, but she despises them. She ridicules Beau, she puts him down, she tries hard to make him try to be something he’s not, even while they’re travelling. Beau is happy being himself, happy playing his guitar and writing songs, happy listening to the sort of music he listens to. But Lila, although she acknowledges that Beau is good looking, almost immediately qualifies this with statements like ‘if only he’d wear cool clothes’ or similar. She’s also snappy and rude and although she has no reason to dislike Beau apparently, she’s pretty horrible to him at the start. Beau is an infinitely more enjoyable character, he was a bit different for a YA romance love interest in that he wasn’t the cool guy, the popular guy, the guy that plays football or whatever. The roles were sort of reversed in that Lila is the popular one who is envied by the student body and Beau is the quieter one who Lila wouldn’t even know existed if they didn’t have a middle school history.

There were a few implausibilities – Lila’s transformation is for me, never really adequately explained. I can’t really buy that she just woke up one day, decided she wanted to become awesomely popular and pretty much ditched her boyfriend and presumably, any other friends she had. There must’ve been a reason for wanting to change, or more than one. Her rise to popularity is also incredibly swift and seems to involve only blow drying her frizzy hair straight and going to a party at Carly’s. She hooks Eric in five minutes despite the fact that he’s a player and never knew she existed and keeps him for a couple of years. Also, the 8yo boys find it ridiculously easy to get several states away and I’ve no idea if that would happen in real life. I don’t know how they get to the train station but they easily get tickets to Seattle and no one seems to question why they’re alone on the train. Neither do Beau and Lila ask the train attendants to radio to the train that there are two unsupervised 8yos on board and could they please escort them off the train at the next station in order for Beau and Lila to collect them. But of course that would too-easily take away the necessary time for Beau and Lila spend together.

I can easily put all of these little gripes aside though as this was a relatively cute, fun read. Despite the fact that Lila was pretty much an annoying, shallow, shrill girl and I thought that it was better Beau than me trapped in a car with her, she does eventually learn some lessons, including ones about being nicer to her brother. This is definitely a book for when you’re not in the mood for something heavy or complicated and you just want to enjoy a cheesy little plot where everything turns out okay in the end.

6/10

Book #88 of my 100 Book Challenge


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