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2 April 2013

Review: 'Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend' by Sarra Manning (2012)

Hope Delafield hasn't always had an easy life. She has red hair and a temper to match, as her mother is constantly reminding her. She can't wear heels, is terrified of heights and being a primary school teacher isn't exactly the job she dreamed of doing, especially when her class are stuck on the two times table. At least Hope has Jack, and Jack is the God of boyfriends. He's sweet, kind, funny, has a killer smile, a cool job on a fashion magazine and he's pretty (but in a manly way). Hope knew that Jack was The One ever since their first kiss after the Youth Club Disco and thirteen years later, they're still totally in love. Totally. They're even officially pre-engaged. And then Hope catches Jack kissing her best friend Susie...Does true love forgive and forget? Or does it get mad ...and get even?
The first time I saw this book was on a shelf in a book shop and the cover immediately caught my eye. I love the purple and pink colours, the font, and the title seems to promise a good chick lit story. Initially, I expected the book to be all about revenge on an ex-boyfriend: the heroine catches her boyfriend cheating, goes through the grieving process rather quickly (boxes of tissues, tears, chocolate, rom-com’s) and decides to come up with nine different ways of revenge to show her ex she is not a girl you should mess with. I love a good romantic story, but a bit of revenge can definitely be entertaining every now and again. Yet, Sarra Manning’s novel turned out to be completely different from what I expected. Which once again shows that you shouldn’t only judge a book by its cover and title (no matter how pretty it may look!).
Hope Delafield has been together with her boyfriend Jack for over 13 years, which is basically half of her life. They live together in a small, but comfy, home in London and after a holiday in Spain, they are now ‘officially’ pre-engaged. It is no surprise that Hope’s whole world comes crashing down when she catches Jack kissing her best friend Susie during a dinner party. Even though Jack promises it was just a drunken kiss, Hope doesn’t completely trust him and rightfully so. She finds out Susie and Jack’s simple kiss is in fact a full-blown affair, which leaves Hope shattered and alone. She knows she should send Jack packing (which she does at first), but she soon realises she is still completely in love with him and afraid to face the world on her own, no matter what her friends say. Throughout the story, Jack and Hope find themselves giving it another try, breaking up again, giving it another try... But, ultimately, Hope starts to realise she might need to step out of her comfort-zone if she wants to live her life to the fullest. Question is, does this include Jack or not?

Sometimes I literally found myself screaming at Hope (in my head... Maybe once out loud, I admit it) to get a grip and just dump Jack already. I didn’t warm to him and thought he was an annoying, self-centred, lazy guy who simply doesn’t deserve a girl like Hope, a character that I really started to like a lot throughout the novel. Yet, I didn’t really get that feeling with any of the other characters. Wilson, the ex-boyfriend of Hope’s best friend Susie, was, for example, a character I couldn’t quite figure out. He isn’t really a bad guy, but to say I really liked him... No. And that was mainly the problem with this novel for me: I loved Hope, but the long time it took to work out the plot and the minor characters who didn’t really speak to me, didn’t leave me with a feeling of longing to read more. However, the way this book deals with the issue of betrayal in a realistic sense was a refreshing and nice change, which did make me want to read on in order to find out what Hope's ending would be like. 

As I said at the start of this review, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Yet, we shouldn’t forget that a lot of people simply do just that. And that’s where I think this book went wrong. It’s not your typical chick lit story, while the cover screams just that. Judging by some of the slightly negative reviews I’ve read online about this book, I think the novel was directed at the wrong audience with this title and cover. It is a well-written, at times funny, and slightly painful novel, which is, most importantly, realistic. What would you do when you discover your long-term boyfriend is cheating on you with your best friend? Obviously we all imagine ourselves kicking his ass and throwing him out immediately... But would we really? This novel deals with that question, and while I personally thought the book was a bit too long, I think others might really love this particular story and the way it is worked out. I've read lots of good things about Sarra Manning's work, so I will definitely give her books another chance ('Adorkable' is already lying on my to-read pile of books), but this particular novel just didn't quite do it for me.


1 comment:

  1. I really like that you are reviewing books because I'm always looking for something new to read! Sorry to hear this book wasn't what you expected, and kudos for reading it anyway :)