Thursday, November 18, 2010

Debut Review: The Lonely Hearts Club

Elizabeth Eulberg
This book was quite win. After the boy she's loved since forever breaks her heart, Penny Lane Bloom (named for the song) decides that all guys are jerks and vows not to date. At least, not until she's done with high school. She starts a Lonely Hearts Club with herself as the sole member. However, when her recently dumped ex-best-friend wants to join, the club and its mission of female empowerment becomes bigger than just Penny Lane. Soon other girls, either broken-hearted or just disillusioned by the  less-than-stellar guys around them, join the club. And Penny Lane finds that she's started a revolution. But of course, swearing off love is more difficult than it seems, especially when Penny Lane finds a guy who genuinely seems to like her and reminds her that not all guys are jerks.

Penny Lane is a stubborn and determined heroine, convinced that every guy is The Enemy. Her harsh attitude would get old quickly, but it soon mellows out and we're reminded that she's angry because she's hurt, because her fairytale came crashing down around her. The way that this particular part of the book is written felt spot-on and was a place of genuine sadness and regret in an otherwise fun and cute story. The characters here were fun and relateable, but, with a few exceptions, not especially original, and there's a large cast of girls in The Lonely Hearts Club that we never get the chance to know. However the book's real triumph is in its relationships. More specifically, the friendship shared by the members of Penny Lane's Lonely Hearts Club. Though there are a lot of characters we don't know much about, the friendship between the three  main girls is positive and realistic while the club as a whole has a very supportive and upbeat atmosphere. These girls are in different grades, have different interests and previously existed in separate social circles, but thanks to the club they come together as friends and learn to support each other even while having differing opinions. Honestly this is one of the best depictions of friendship that I've come across lately and I definitely wanted to jump into the book so that I could be a part of the fabulous Lonely Hearts Club.

The romance aspect lacked spark; the boy (whose name I won't spoil for you) was nice, normal, and sometimes funny, but seemed boring at times. I wanted the feisty Penny Lane to end up with someone more spectacular and it's a good thing the love story here plays second-fiddle to the larger, more important story of the girls' friendship and self-discovery. While the setting is fairly standard - a nondescript high school - Penny Lane's love for and obsession with The Beatles carries over into the rest of the book. From the title and cover to quotes inside the book and many, many Beatles references, the mood of this book perfectly matches that of the British invasion music. Though the ending of this book felt a little too perfect for me, the story is adorable, Penny Lane is a cheer-worthy protagonist, and the many musical references made me want to hug this adorable, wonderful book.

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