Review: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

Life is not like the movies. There are no perfect endings, no thematic music, and no jump cuts in the stories of our lives. Still, when I heard about Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore I knew that I had to read it.

Goodreads Summary: Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson. Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend.  While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques? Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.

This book articulates the desire that many people have to share the emotions that they see on screen. They get it into their heads that love means grand gestures or fiery arguments turned into passion and they start to expect to see the same things reflected in their own lives, sometimes even to the detriment of real feelings that might already be there.

The characters in the book went too far by reenacting, but they were also just expressing themselves in the ways that they’d been taught by popular culture. Inspired by their favorite romantic classics they sought emotional reassurance from the ones they loved and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

In an ancient Miley Cyrus song, Miley sings about this very same theme.* “If we were a movie,” she says, “then you’d be the right guy. And I’d be the best friend that you’d fall in love with. In the end we’d be laughing, watching the sunset. Fade to black, show the names, play that happy song…”

But the movies aren’t real. Miley figured that out and so did the main characters of this book. There’s no right way to tell someone that you love them and no right way to test someone’s affections. There’s no script to follow or director to tell you when to roll the credits.

Life is just life and people do crazy and stupid and unexpected things sometimes for the ones that they love and sometimes to them. There’s no logic to it, just feeling. You can’t predict it or follow a scripted path to inspire it. I may not know a lot about love or romance, but if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that love just happens.

Period, end of story.

I liked this book, but I also knew before I started it that there were going to be parts that would make me gag. Sickly sweet “Prom-posals” and artificial “Meet-cute” moments aren’t really my thing, and happily ever afters in which everyone ends high school with a smile just aren’t realistic. I like my endings with a healthy dose of reality, thank you very much. I’d give it 3 out of 5 Goodreads stars though because it was well written and certainly an enjoyable enough book to read while you’re actually reading it, an easy Sunday afternoon read.
*Yeah, can’t believe I’m quoting her either, let alone Miley from her Hannah Montana days. But if the shoe fits…

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