Synopsis (From GoodReads):
Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.
Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?
Kami Garcia is one of my favorite authors. I found the Beautiful Creatures series to be fun with great fantasy elements. So I was really looking forward to her new book, The Lovely Reckless. While there were many enjoyable aspects to this book, I also had trouble with some overused plot points that came across as silly, and an ending that tied things up a little too nicely.
What I Liked:Romeo & Juliet vibe:
I enjoyed how the book started out like the classic Shakespeare play. Two kids from opposite sides see each other and there is an instant attraction. Frankie's father would never approve of Marco. Marco's friends are openly hostile towards Frankie. There are many parallels that are fun to pick out (even Frankie's dog, Cujo, seems to guard her much like Juliet's nurse does in the play).
The fun of the book comes from Frankie having to move in with her dad and change to a public high school. I liked how Frankie is the reader's eyes, taking in her new school, and new classmates, and learning how to navigate her changed circumstances. Frankie has royally messed up and now needs to win back to trust of her dad. Seeing herself as her dad (a cop) sees most people is sobering for Frankie.
I loved all the female characters in this book!
Frankie, Cruz, and Lex are all strong females who are each dealing with difficult family and life issues. I especially liked the friendship between Frankie and Lex. After Frankie's boyfriend Noah dies, Lex feel shut out of Frankie's life. But hanging out with Lex and her boyfriend Abel brings back too many memories of Noah. She is just not ready to get past Noah's murder. I thought their misunderstandings and awkwardness rang so true.
What I Didn't Like:Cliches:
With the notable exception of Frankie's dad, this is a book with a serious case of "missing parent" syndrome.
There never seems to be an adult around checking up on the teens, making sure they are okay. And why is it that all of the rich kids have parents who seem bored by parenting, while the poor kids all have parents who are either dead or in jail?
This bothers me to no end because I live in a city much like the one depicted in this book. There is definitely a troubled downtown and a relatively calm suburb where I live. I take offense to the notion that all the parents of the poor kids were criminals. Most parents in my town are working hard to provide for their families and check to make sure their kids arrive at school clean, fed and ready for learning. There are also people who have personal problems that make it challenging to be the parents they want to be. But income does not determine these things. Couldn't the author have shown just one positive image of a working parent (or an caring rich, stay-at-home parent for that matter)?
It is my policy to keep my reviews spoiler-free, so I will not go into specific details. But when everything is resolved so quickly after the main event, I wonder how insurmountable these orbital problems could have been in the first place. Nearly everyone got a happy ending and each kid's family situation seemed to be resolved with lightening speed. It was as if a fairy-godmother had arrived and solved everyone's problems with a flick of her wand!
If you can overlook these problems, I think you will find The Lovely Reckless to be an entertaining, if superficial book. The strong female characters, setting, and action make it a fun read.
Release Date: October 4th, 2016
Genre: YA fiction
Format: ARC E-book
Recommendation: An entertaining Romeo & Juliet type melodrama. Just don't take the stereotypes too seriously.