Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Lonely Hearts Club

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg (NY: Point, 2011).

Penny Lane Bloom is named after a Beatles' song but is pretty sure money can't buy her love after she disastrously discovers the boy she's always loved half-naked with another girl. And that's after a string of dating disappointments that leave her thinking she's better off without boys.  For her junior year,  she decides that instead of dating, she'll focus on her own needs and her friends.  She's tired of watching how girls ditch their friends and change their personalities for the sake of male attention.  Little does she know that her initiative will become a club--the Lonely Hearts Club--that will set her school's social world into a tailspin.  And even though she's sworn off boys, she starts to wonder if there might be a few good ones out there, even one for her.

Oh, the irony.  Why, why, why does a fine girl power story have to be undermined by romance, as though getting the guy is the only possible happy outcome?  That's my main complaint about this otherwise highly readable YA tale.  Penny is a strong character who rightly notes that boys have way too much power over girls, so she takes a gutsy and unpopular stand that gets her more attention than she anticipated. She learns that shades of gray have to penetrate her black-and-white views. It's awesome to watch the girls support one another and become more self-aware. While there are some stereotypes at play in the novel, the main characters are well done and the story's central point is well taken despite the romantic capitulation.  I found this novel by searching for E. Lockhart readalikes on my library's NoveList database, and it is similar to The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book in having a strong female character who learns life and love lessons. Penny is nowhere near as funny as Ruby, though!  Recommended for teens 13 & up.  Sexual situations, language, alcohol.

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