Author: Philip Siegel (Twitter)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: April 29, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples.After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the dreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she'll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity.
There's something about those feel-good stories that have great plots but spare you the depth and agony of many of the novels on our current to-be-read piles. That, essentially, is why I picked up The Break-Up Artist to read. I was surprised to find, however, that this was a book chock-full of emotion, relatable characters, a fun and engaging plot and a story of self-discovery that any one at any age can relate to. Author, Philip Siegel, has crafted a story that readers will enjoy, all the while rooting for the characters and hoping for a happy outcome - if only to spare ourselves from that awkward feeling of first love yet again.
Truth be told, I thought that I would have an inherent issue with our main character, Becca, because her actions, while justified to the masses, were often incredibly self-serving. Instead, I found myself admiring her snark, her wit, her cunning sense of self and the ultimate change of her persona through finding the one thing she sought to enjoy. The Break-Up Artist could easily have fallen into the trap of being too predictable and sugar-coated, but watching our disenchanted protagonist find and fall for someone was believable and exciting because it was a real, tangible connection - something that is too often lacking in young adult novels.
The Break-Up Artist is a novel where a secondary character definitely steals the show though, and it's been a while since I've read such a novel. Huxley, our resident mean girl, begins as what most readers will see as a trope. She's cruel, she's vindictive and she's shallow. And yet, as the story develops, we watch as Huxley's character becomes more well-rounded and fleshed out, and we better understand her persona and her actions, making her someone that we have an extremely difficult time not liking.
I think that one of the biggest selling points of The Break-Up Artist, however, was simply that it felt so very real to me. The dialogue was spot-on, and the author gives readers a delicate balance of real life with a touch of stereotypical high school life, offering us a perfect mix of the two. While most of us don't want to relive our high school years because of just how uncomfortable and awkward they were, this is the type of novel that glorifies those awkward years, brings them to life and gives us characters with whom we can all relate and root for. Whether we were the invisible kid or the most popular student in school, it's a novel that's fun, engaging and rings true on a lot of levels.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by The Break-Up Artist. I went in looking for a palette-cleansing read, but I got a novel with a surprising amount of depth - and fun! It's definitely the type of book I'll re-read, purely for enjoyment. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.