When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:
1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous
But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for this eARC! This title is now available.
Sometimes there are moments when a book turns out to be exactly what you need. This was one of those times.
The book begins with Mallory and Jeremy “studying” in his room. When they finally separate from their lip lock, they attempt to keep working on their school project together–or rather, Mallory keeps working on it. Jeremy is letting her do the whole thing. She logs onto this computer to find some sources, and instead finds that Jeremy has not only married a different girl on a Sims-like computer game, but has also been conversing with this girl on a far more personal level than he ever talked to her. Filled with hurt and betrayal, Mallory goes home and holes up in her basement, packing up her grandmother’s things to bring to her at her new retirement complex. In a box, she finds a notebook with a list of things her grandmother hoped to accomplish her junior year, and it seems absolutely perfect. If she’d lived in the 60s, there wouldn’t have been internet and Jeremy never could have cyber-cheated. Viva la Dark Ages!
This book has a super cute premise. I loved it from the second I heard it. It works really well for the book, too, with Mallory exploring both the pros and the cons of the whole thing. It causes self discovery, but it also causes conflict, which is nice. At the same time, though, there were times when I thought the characters were acting a little bit crazy. At times, multiple characters had overblown reactions that made me dislike them. This is especially true of Mallory’s sister, Ginnie, and sometimes of Mallory herself.
The plot seems pretty low key for most of the book. Mallory’s issue stem deeper than just her break up. Her mother isn’t being supportive and is too prying, her father isn’t making much money and her grandmother is trying to reinvent herself after the death of her husband. This interweave pretty well for most of the book. However, at the end they seem to blow up catastrophically into mountainous revelations in their own right, and each one is fighting for prominence rather than being given the space it deserves. Even Mallory can’t seem to find the time to explain them all, and she tells her sister so. In the end, I was a little unsure how her grandmother and then her mother’s revelations had to do with the plot at all.
The character of Oliver (Jeremey’s cousin) deserves his own paragraph, of course. I was a little affronted when he popped onto the scene so soon after Jeremy and Mallory’s breakup. I didn’t want this to be one of those books where the problem is instantly solved by another guy. I don’t want to spoil anything, but that isn’t what happens, and that made me extremely happy. Besides my worry that he was going to turn into Mallory’s knight in shining armor, he was a likable character who was a great friend and believable.
As always, the endings of these stories are always the make-it-or-break-it point for me. It’s important to me what the final message is. In the end, I was pleased and proud. Mallory becomes her own person in a believable way. She doesn’t need a man to save her. Jeremy, too, becomes a more fleshed out person throughout the story, so by the end you understand him, even if you still don’t like him. After too many books where we’re left just knowing the ex is a “bad guy,” this was refreshing.
If you’re looking for a good contemporary romance that’s really about the inner struggle with finding yourself after a break up, but don’t want the answer to be yet another guy, READ THIS BOOK!