Just Like the Movies

  • Kelly Fiore
  • Bloomsbury USA Children’s
  • 288 pp.

Two teenage girls seek big-screen solutions to their real-life problems.

Most people, at one point or another, have wished their life was more like the movies — especially when it comes to love. Grand gestures of affection are a common occurrence on the silver screen, but maybe not so much in real life. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

In Kelly Fiore’s sophomore novel, Just Like the Movies, two high school students, Marijke and Lily, replicate scenes from romantic flicks in hopes of landing the men of their dreams. And, of course, hijinks ensue.

Marijke is the track star, tall and athletic and one of the most popular girls in school. She’s also dating Tommy, one of the most handsome and popular boys in school. Lily, on the other hand, has few friends, no boyfriend, and would rather stick to the background.

But after Marijke and Tommy fight over a Facebook comment thread (welcome to the social-media age of YA), Lily ends up being the one to comfort her, even though the two have never spoken before.

After bonding over their love of romantic films, the girls hatch a plan to act out scenes from classic films to get Tommy to see how much Marijke cares about him and to attract the attention of Lily’s crush, Joe.

The chapters alternate between Marijke and Lily narrating as they try, and fail, to make their scheme work. Fiore infuses their voices with the sarcasm and wit unique to teenagers.

Any fan of rom-coms will enjoy the antics the girls get up to, including one where Marijke acts out a famous scene from “Say Anything.” However, Fiore leaves you wanting more of these fun reenactments. Only a handful of scenes actually replicate real films, and only two of those truly reflect what happened on screen.

Fiore knows that life isn’t exactly like the movies, though, and the girls struggle with more than love. They face family problems, floundering friendships, and myriad other things that come with growing up.

Life is messy and full of unexpected hardships, something Marijke in particular is not immune to. As she wrestles with issues at home, she finds solace in her friendship with Lily, even as Tommy is nowhere to be found. Boys come and go, but friendships are made of stronger stuff, and while their plans don’t work out, the friendship Marijke and Lily forge is one thing that does go right.

However, much like the movies, books don’t always play by the rules of life, either. The ending of Just Like the Movies turns out pretty much picture perfect. If only real life could be tied up in so neat a bow.

Katie Dvorak is the Independent’s social media director. You can follow her on Twitter at @KMDvorak87 and @WIRoBooks.   

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