Friday, December 13, 2019

Meg Cabot - The Boy is Back

Sometimes to move forward, you have to go back…
One post. That’s all it took to destroy the care free, glamorous life of pro golfer Reed Stewart. One tiny post on the Internet.
Then again, it’s not like Reed’s been winning many tournaments lately, and his uncle isn’t the only one who says it’s because of the unfinished business he left behind back home in Bloomville, Indiana—namely Reed’s father, the Honorable Judge Richard P. Stewart, and the only girl Reed ever loved, Becky Flowers.
But Reed hasn’t spoken to either his father or Becky in over a decade.
Until that post on the Internet. Suddenly, Reed’s family has become a national laughingstock, his publicist won’t stop calling, his siblings are begging for help, and Reed realizes he has no other choice: He’s got to go home to face his past . . . the Judge and the girl he left behind.
Becky’s worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed—which hasn’t been easy, considering he’s their hometown’s golden boy, and all anyone ever talks about. It was fine while they were thousands of miles apart, but now he’s back in Bloomville. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him—until his family hires her to help save his parents.
Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another…or the memories of that one fateful night.
Can the quirky residents of Bloomville bring these two young people back together, or will Reed and Becky continue to allow their pasts to deny them the future they deserve?

Comment: I first discovered Meg Cabot while I was in the university, so between 2003 and 2007 more or less, and that happened because I have always been a reader, even if it would consume time I should be dedicating to academic reads. 

This means I'd often browse the literature shelves to see if any title would catch my attention and I've noticed several covers which seemed to be of books clearly not meant to be academic sources, like Boy Meets Girl, the first book by the author I've read and which I got from the library. This book was 2nd in a trilogy and the others were not available so I purchased them later on.
(But it was a world and I've read many romances and other fiction books not really erudite literature thanks to a huge bunch of books given to my university's library from another one.)

I liked that first book by this author so I tarted reading more by her, including the Princess series and that is why I still remember with fondness the "Boy Series", which means I was quite eager to read this one after more than ten years after the third had been released. However, I think that for me, the magic is a little bit lost...

In this fourth book we have the funny story of Becky and Reed, they were high school sweethearts who ended their relationship after Reed suddenly leaves home to go live with his uncle in California so that he can pursue his dream of being a professional golf player. 
Becky is left behind in Indiana and she follows a more quiet life, taking over her family business of helping elderly people move when their home or mental conditions cannot meet the healthy and clean standards of living.
This story begins when Reed's parents, pillars of the community, are arrested because they tried to pay a meal at a restaurant with stamps, which the judge (Reed's father) claimed were rare and worth a lot. From this situation on, a set of characters starts taking steps to not only help the couple but also to discover how such a wealthy couple, who has always helped others, now seems to be too eccentric and not having enough to pay simple bills...and that includes Reed coming back to see for himself and, of course, that means he will need to see Becky again after having abandoned her...

I remember the most interesting thing about that first book I've read in this series was the format in which it was presented. It was so amazing to discover a book whose tale was being told through letters the characters exchanged, pieces of paper, purchases slips, notes, emails, many different ways of leaving a trace of something done/planned. It was innovative at the time and made me enjoy the broader notion of epistolary novels, which could be as emotional and informative as any regular narrative.

This fourth book, of course, brings back the magic a little but this time most of the entries are from diary notes, emails and phone/chat conversations. Technology does advance...
The problem for me is that despite the cute format and the plot having a theme I think was interesting to see developed (how Reed's parents could not afford a meal and where did their money go, how elderly people need help as their faculties diminish, etc), the romance was not captivating at all and the apparent contrived way everything was done in a way meant to be funny or hilarious and not really being so, made this story feel a downgrade from the other installments published in 2004.

The plot, like I said, has a feel of novelty and I was genuinely curious to know what was behind the problems with money Reed's parents faced. Some things were done in a very cue way yes, but I think product reviews and secondary conversations really conveyed the serious of the subject and thinking about the couple as eccentric or "cutesy older people" didn't feel correct. When we know how and why they didn't have money, I think the situation wasn't dealt with the seriousness it required. Yes, this is meant to be cute and a comedy but balance was off.

The romance between Becky and Reed is the other big thing of the story. I don't think it was well done and this time, not just because of the quirky narrative format. They get back too quickly, they let go of their partners before reuniting too quickly, too easily and I was not convinced at all they were able to get back the same level of communion they used to have. Why would they be a couple again, if not due to old times? Nothing about them now would only be possible if they were a couple again. They could have been strangers and the story would develop the same way. I understand the whys but really, nothing was gained and the way they solved their past doubts was non existing. They just felt attracted once more and after a few decisions, voilá, instant forever.

All things considered, this was not completely bad or easily dismissed but I think not all elements were well thought of and, of course, humor is relative; some readers liked it a lot, for me some scenes were not that funny.
I liked going back to this type of story but since this is pretty much a standalone, has no reference to any of the previous installments nor the characters, it also felt a little out of place. The memories of the experience reading this series stay, though, and reading favorite parts of the favorite books does the trick instead.
Grade: 5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment