The Fine Art of Pretending (The Fine Art of Pretending, # 1)
By: Rachel Harris
Expected Publication: September 30th 2014 by Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.
With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.
But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.
The Fine Art of Pretending looked like a cute and harmless read. The Fine Art of Pretending is pretty much exactly what it’s advertised to be. I mean...makeover, finding yourself, pretend relationships, and more than best friends stories aren’t new. These ideas have been around for a while. And even though they’re mostly predictable, I find myself enjoying them almost each and every time. And with reading the description, that’s not too far off. I do think in high school—and maybe even after—guys can tell fairly quickly which girls aren’t going to be satisfied with quick and casual and which ones are looking for the long-haul, long-term relationships.
I can totally understand wanting to do the makeover and go from tomboy to feminine. I can see wanting guys to see you as a potential girlfriend in comparison to a friend-friend. I can even understand making a run at becoming more popular. I completely sympathize with trying to find yourself. Feeling like you’ve not been the best version of yourself that you can be. And shoot I understand not even knowing what version of yourself you’ve been and what version you want to be. But what I do not understand is wanting to be casual. I do not now nor have I ever understood casual relationships that you can take or leave. What’s the point? I don’t know. Maybe that’s just because I’ve always been a Commitment myself. But I felt like Aly was moving backwards as a character instead of forward for a large portion of the book. Granted, she eventually moves forward, but only after a trip around the world to get there.
Aly herself reminded me of myself in high school. Athletic. A tomboy. More comfortable in tennis shoes, t-shirts, jogging pants, and a ponytail than high heels, tight shirts, skirts, and hair in
my her face. She’s friends with Gabie who’s on the dance team, but yet she seemed to have an edge to her. And then there’s Kara who is the typical girly-girl. I liked that Aly was friends with these girls and not just surrounded by boys. Yet, one of Aly’s best friends is Brandon. They’ve grown up together. They’ve been there for each other during some major life events. And Aly even crushed on Brandon several years back, but he just wanted to be friends.
I liked Brandon a lot, but I struggled with him too. On the one hand, it took Aly’s makeover and crazy plan for him to see her. But when he did see her, he couldn’t unsee her. Brandon like a typical high school and college aged male from YA/NA likes his relationships to remain casual. He has a reputation of not exactly being boyfriend material, and that’s because he doesn’t want to be boyfriend material. His excuse of seeing his mother heartbroken after his father’s death felt far-fetched to me. And flawed. He could have a friendship with Aly where he might even acknowledge that he loves her on the friend level, but he couldn’t have a relationship with anyone because relationships end? Yeah. I’m not buying it. If Rachel Harris had stuck to his desire not to ruin his friendship with Aly, I would have bought that more. And all it took was literally a sentence from his mom to change his perspective on that whole deal.
Another slight peeve of mine is name dropping. I feel like name dropping in books automatically dates the book. Brands come and go. And when they’re included in a book to make the character feel “in” with the current brands, then as soon as those brands are no longer popular then the book is outdated. The beginning of the book features an entire list of these, but just to name a few: BMW, Cartier, Charlotte Russe, Chuck Taylor, Clinique, Forever 21, Juicy Couture, and so on and so on.
The Fine Art of Pretending was one of those quick and easy stories that might give you some frustration but pays off in the end by being exactly what you expected it to be. Truthfully, there were times when I was more interested in Gabie and Carlos than I was in Aly and Brandon, and I hope that’s what the companion novel is going to be about. The Fine Art of Pretending gets 3 Stars from me. It was good. It was frustrating. Have you read The Fine Art of Pretending? What did you think? Let me know!