The Children’s Book Review | November 12, 2016
Written by Laurie Devore
Age Range: 14 and up
Hardcover: 352 pages
What to expect: High school, mean girls, grief, relationships, friendship
This riveting debut will keep readers flipping the pages to find out just what exactly Olivia Clayton is willing to do to have it all.
Olivia is everything every high school girl wants to be. Popular. Pretty. A cheerleader. Her boyfriend’s hot and she has a distinct lack of parental oversight that allows her to live the life television shows could only dream of. But when Olivia’s brother is killed in a tragic car accident, her pretty little life starts to unwind. Adrienne, her best frenemy and the most popular girl in school, asks her over after school, constructing a scene where Olivia walks in on Adrienne in bed with Olivia’s boyfriend.
Stunned, Olivia goes home and vows to take revenge. But Olivia is no typical mean girl. We get a glimpse in to a very real, hurt young woman who is tearing down her life and all of her relationships to mask the pain of loss. Her mother has had previous mental breakdowns and is essentially absent, and without her best friend or her brother, Olivia is lost at sea. She hooks up with resident All-American good guy Whit. Sure he’s handsome, but Olivia picks him to be her pretend boyfriend to really tick Adrienne off. But when it becomes something more real, and the pranks and mean-girl stunts starts to grate on her conscience, Olivia must fight her demons to become a better person, or risk losing everyone, and everything, she’s ever cared about.
HOW TO BREAK A BOY is a study in grief, self-destruction and forgiveness. I found that this was so compelling because Olivia was so true, so real, that I couldn’t put the book down. Her pain, masked through mean girl pranks and snotty attitude, was so raw that it made me sympathize with an actual mean girl, and cheer her on as she came to some self-realization. The writing is effortless and beautiful, and the tension was killer. Her world is so complicated, readers won’t be able to help rooting for her even if she reminds them of the mean girl from high school. There really is a beating heart in that cold, tin chest, and readers will love to see it.
About the Author
Laurie Devore was born and raised in small town South Carolina and graduated from Clemson University. She now lives and works in Chicago, where she misses the charms and contradictions of the south every day. In her spare time, she reluctantly runs marathons, watches too much TV, and works a “y’all” into every conversation. How to Break a Boy is her first novel.
How to Break a Boy, by Laurie Devore, was reviewed by Denise Mealy. Discover more books like How to Break a Boy by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Friendship, Grief, High School, Relationships, and Young Adult Fiction.