Book Review: Just Like the Movies

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
Release Date: July 2014 
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Pages: 288 
Source: Publisher

Pretty, popular Marijke Monti and over-achieving nerd-girl Lily Spencer have little in common—except that neither feels successful when it comes to love. Marijke can’t get her boyfriend to say “I love you” and Lily can’t get a boyfriend at all. When the girls end up at a late night showing of Titanic, sniffling along with the sinking ship, they realize that their love lives could—and should—be better. Which sparks an idea: Why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they create perfect romantic situations? Now they have a budding friendship and a plan—to act out grand gestures and get the guys of their dreams. It seems like fun at first, but reality turns out to be much more complicated, and they didn’t take into account that finding true love usually requires finding yourself first.

Just Like the Movies came at the right time for me. Drowning in committee graphic novels, I needed a light read with a bit of fluff; something that Just Like the Movies nailed perfectly. After all, what girl hasn’t dreamed at one time or another of having that perfect movie romance?

But let’s be honest, movies aren’t real, right? While Marijke and Lily think they have the perfect schemes to get them what they want, they soon realize that plans don’t always go according to plan. Big elaborate set-ups fail for simple reasons. Even when everything else seems to be just right, it can still fall apart. I applaud Fiore for showing how complicated and difficult relationships, no matter what age you are, can be. However, we all know that YA books are like the movies, and that Marijke and Lily get their happily-ever-after in the end. And, for the most part, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I adore those tied up nicely in a bow endings

But the question remains: is it a good thing that everyone got their fairytale ending? For Lily and Joe, absolutely. I adored every moment of this blooming relationship. They seemed to have a genuine connection once they started talking. It’s a little cheesy that Lily knows she’s in love with Joe without knowing anything about him, but that can be forgiven due to how realistic it is. How many times have we convinced ourselves that we’re head over heels for someone we’ve never said more than five words to or merely watched from afar? I loved that Lily wasn’t trying to be over the top and how honest and real Joe felt. While them becoming an item felt a bit sudden, I still cheered when it happened.

Marijke and Tommy, though? I cheered when I thought they were splitting up. I wanted to pat Marijke on the back when she finally started to put herself first. The whole book I felt like she tried way too hard, especially since Tommy felt a bit sleazy to me. He would always say the right thing, but his actions never backed it up. When your significant other tells you they need you/asks you to come over right away, you don’t go off and practice with the band; especially not after you said you would come. A healthy relationship means supporting each other emotionally. I never got that sense of support from Tommy. Time and time again he blew her off. It isn’t until she breaks up with him that he changes his tune, but even then I doubt his sincerity. The silver lining is that Marijke realized she couldn’t build her world around a boy. She started making decisions that were best for her and not their relationship. Perhaps this too will be okay, but honestly, I wish Marijke had made the decision to stay single. With her going away for college, it would have been perfectly acceptable and understandable.

There’s one more thing I’d like to talk about and that’s Marijke and Lily’s friendship. These two formed an unlikely friendship that I simply adored. What started off as a ploy to help each other developed into something meaningful. I wish Fiore had focused more on this relationship because it truly was the heart of the book. If the happily ever after would just have been that these two formed a lasting bond I would have been satisfied. Sure, the romantic stuff was a bonus, but it wasn’t as important as this friendship.

Final verdict: If you’re looking for a fast, cute romance this is it. It’s a perfect beach read that will leave a smile on your face.

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