The Break-Up Artist
Copy courtesy of Harlequin AUS
It’s a well-kept secret that Becca is ‘The Break-Up Artist’ at her local school. She knows first hand what relationships can do to friendships – after all she watched her best friend Huxley reinvent herself for a boyfriend and move far away from her to the point where they no longer even speak. And then she saw her sister get her heart smashed when her fiancé called off the wedding when Becca’s sister was putting on her wedding dress for the big day. So now, for $100 via PayPal, Becca will break up any couple the client requests. She researches, she puts her plan into action and watches the fallout. So far she has an excellent success rate.
But then her latest client wants her to break up the strongest couple in school – Huxley and Steve. They’ve been together for four years, which is almost unheard of in high school and they are the undisputed king and queen in the popularity stakes. Steve, a promising footballer is even giving up a prestigious football scholarship at an interstate school so that he can stay local and be closer to Huxley, who is one year behind him in school.
Becca knows this one is going to be difficult. She’ll earn every cent of the money her client is promising her. And in order to be successful, she’s going to have to get close to Huxley again, become friends with her and gain Huxley’s trust. And while she’s busy with the most challenging break up yet, Becca is also beginning to wonder if she can’t see what love is about after all….the only thing is, the boy she’s having some feelings for, happens to be her best friend Val’s new boyfriend.
Usually the type of young adult novels I like to read are contemporary romance-style so this is definitely not the usual sort of book I would choose! However the concept really interested me because there are many people who experience being ‘left behind’ by their friends when their friends are getting boyfriends for the first time. And if you’re the only one who doesn’t have a boyfriend, it can be even more isolating.
Becca is that girl – she doesn’t have a boyfriend, she doesn’t want one. She can’t really understand how someone can place their trust in someone else when relationships are such a fickle thing. She was friends with Huxley from the time they were small, doing dance classes together. When they reached middle school (about year 7), Huxley began to change. She became more concerned with popularity and boys and ended up being the one to snare the hot newcomer Steve. She left Becca behind and regards her with little more than pity and occasionally open hostility now. Becca has also seen her older sister devastated by being dumped by her fiancé hours before their wedding and since then all Diane does is sit in food-stained clothes and watch television. She used to have a good job in the city and lots of friends – now she believes they’ve all shunned her because she’s single and not on the same life trajectory as them. Becca is fiercely loyal to Diane and it is Diane’s experience that fuels much of her decision to become The Break-Up Artist. In her reasoning, if she can break them up then maybe they weren’t really meant to be together in the first place. It seems ridiculously easy in some cases, ending these couples.
Things get complicated for Becca when she is asked to break up Huxley and Steve. They are the famous golden couple, the ones that have stood the test of time. There’s no denying that Becca has complicated feelings about this one, especially as to get the job done she realises that she’s going to need to get close to Huxley and earn her trust again, become her friend. This means being someone that she really isn’t in a way, as she’ll need Huxley to believe that Becca needs her. However there’s also no denying that she enjoys hanging out with Huxley again, reviving the friendship. At times it seems as though Becca forgets a little that she’s breaking up Steve and Huxley. Huxley is a quintessential popular girl but there was a little bit of depth to her and also to her relationship with Steve. I assumed that she was going out with Steve merely because he was popular, the one everyone wanted, which would continue to raise her own popularity. There could’ve been some more depth there, I felt we could’ve gotten to know Huxley and Steve a bit more as characters, but really, this wasn’t their story.
Whilst I enjoyed Becca’s motivation, the side plot of her developing an attraction to her best friend’s boyfriend left me a bit cold. I’m not entirely sure this was necessary – I think that Becca could’ve developed an appreciation for relationships in a different way. Even though her best friend was a little boy crazy and the two were ill suited, for me, other people’s boyfriends should be off limits. Especially if they are your best friend’s boyfriend. I feel like the possibility of the romance that was hinted at right at the end of the book was a good choice and would’ve liked more of that. I feel like Becca needed a positive experience, seeing as how most of her experiences with romantic love had been quite negative. Even the friendships in this novel are heavily laced with bad experiences – Huxley severing their friendship, then Val doing virtually the same thing as well. I really enjoyed her relationship with her sister Diane – Diane is about eight years older than Becca, so Becca really looks up to her. But their also comes a time in this book where Becca realises that Diane is tainting things with her own negativity and will end up ruining things that are very important to her if she doesn’t ‘get over it’ soon. It’s that moment which helps Becca realise that there are two sides to every story and she’d only ever heard Diane’s.
All in all this was quite a good read – it took me right back to high school, the good and the bad.
Book #93 of 2014