Tuesday, June 29, 2010

REVIEW: The Lonely Hearts Club

The Lonely Hearts ClubEulberg, E.  (2010).  The Lonely Hearts Club.  New York:  Point.

285 pages.

So, when I first saw an ALA preview of this book during an online talk, I really wanted to read it.  Then, after the book came out, it got lost in the mountain of books I was equally excited to read.  Until now.

Appetizer: So, after walking in on her boyfriend Nate in a state of, umm, undress with another girl, Penny Lane (named for The Beatles song) reflects on her other past relationships and decides to swear off boys for her two remaining years of high school.  It doesn't take to long for other girls to see the appeal of Penny's Lonely Hearts Club and the club grows becoming a force within the school, creating tensions with some of the boys and other girls.

Adding to the pressure is the fact that Penny is close with one of her friend's ex-boyfriends, Ryan, and thinks he may want to be more than friends.  But being the leader of the Lonely Hearts Club isn't the only thing potentially stopping Penny from pursuing a relationship with Ryan.  She also needs to know if he is different from other guys.  If he's worth the risk of heartbreak.

It could just be that I happened upon The Lonely Hearts Club just when I was just in the right mood to read a romantic comedy, but I was greatly entertained.

I sat down to start the first few pages last night and got immersed.  The book is light and fun and I didn't want to stop reading.

I liked that it dealt with girls finding support from their female friends and considered that the risks of taking a chance on liking a guy.  It's one of those happy escapist books in which annoying ex-boy and mean girl types get yelled at.

It made me want to run out and start a club with all my local female friends.  But then I went through the list in my head and realized that every. single. woman. I know in Columbus is either in a serious relationship or married.  Massive fail.

So, instead I had to satisfy myself with listening to a bunch of Beatles songs on repeat.  I hadn't done that since...middle school?  So, that was fun.

There's a lot of fun, humor and a bit of subtle commentary about gender roles and they way girls are treated in relationships as well as on the pressure girls receive to have sex for the first time.  For example, when two friends break up, Penny wonders why the girl is treated as "damaged goods" and as a victim while her ex-boyfriend is congratulated on being free once again.

I actually could have used some more of the gender and sex cultural commentary throughout.  I was reminded of that one episode of Sex and the City, in which Miranda says something to the effect of, we are four awesome ladies, but all we do is talk about guys!

And I kind of got that vibe with The Lonely Hearts Club.  These girls decide to band together to focus on themselves, their own goals and identities, (and while one character in particular does follow this empowerment vibe) most of the girls' meetings STILL revolved around guys, like discussing how Penny was going to have to face Nate the Ex once more during Thanksgiving break.

I also did have a little trouble keeping a lot of the secondary characters straight.  Eulberg tended to introduce a lot of names without describing the characters.  And since I have trouble with names when a person is standing right in front of me, no way in hellz could I keep these characters straight.

Dinner Conversation:

"When I was five years old, I walked down the aisle with the man of my dreams.
Okay, make that boy.  He was five too.
I'd known Nate Taylor pretty much since birth" (p. 5).

"He wanted me.  And I wanted him.  It seemed that simple.
Soon enough, we were together.  Finally, really together.
Only I didn't get the fairy tale I was hoping for.
Because guys change.
They lie.
They stomp on your heart.
I found out the hard way that fairy tales and true love don't exist.
The perfect guy doesn't exist" (p. 7).

"A girl.
With Nate.
I stood frozen, not believing my own eyes.  I looked between the two of them as they fumbled for clothing...
The girl started giggling.  "I thought you said your sister was gone for the evening!"
His sister?  Nate didn't have a sister.  I tried to tell myself there was a good explanation for what I was seeing.  There was no way Nate would do something like this to me.  Especially in my own house.  Maybe this girl had been in a car accident right outside and Nate had brought her inside to... um, comfort her.  Or they were just rehearsing a scene from a summer production of...Naked Romeo and Juliet" (pp. 10-11).

"Lonely.  Hearts.  Club.
In theory, it may have sounded depressing.  But there wasn't anything depressing about the music.
No, this Lonely Hearts Club was the opposite of depressing it was alive.
The answer had been in front of me all along.  There was a way to stop getting cheated on, lied to, and used.
I would stop torturing myself by dating loser guys.  I would enjoy the benefits of being single.  I would, for once, focus on me.  Junior year would be my year.  It would be all about me, Penny Lane Bloom, sole member and founder of The Lonely Hearts Club." (p. 19).

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

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