Khanh the Killjoy

The art of whiney

The Art of Lainey - Paula Stokes
“Don’t talk about school.” For a second, I imagine going back as someone other than Jason Chase’s girlfriend. My heart starts to race. Who would that girl even be?

This book would have been more appropriately titled Overly Attached Lainey.

Love is a battlefield! What could be better than an epic strategy of using Sun Tzu's The Art of War to get back a lost boyfriend? How could one possibly go wrong? For starters, have the main character be the most pathetic, clingy, desperate 17-year old in the whole world whose only identity in life is that of being someone's girlfriend. And then have her refer to said master, Sun Tzu, as "Dead Chinese Warlord" for the rest of the book.

Sun. Motherfucking. Tzu. It's not a hard freaking name. It's silly, it's disrespectful. It's like me calling George Washington as that Dead White General. Sure, you can do it, sure, it's technically correct, it's entirely your prerogative to call the man who wrote one of the most famous manuals on war Dead Chinese Warlord. Just don't expect me to fucking like you for it.

This book had quite a few faults, in my opinion:

- The main character is the equivalent of the Overly Attached (ex)Girlfriend meme. She has no personality. Her only identity is in being so-and-so's girlfriend, in being so-and-so's friend and shadow

- The book is about 100 pages too long. Almost nothing relevant happens in the second half of the book.

- It mocks alternative lifestyles and makes a lot of jokes about whores and sluts

- There's no true female friendship. Her one awesome friend tends to disappear until it's convenient for her to appear again. Her other best friend is almost nonexistent for most of the book, and only serves as a bitchy, cruel, slutty foil to the angelic (if desperate) main character

- There's a love triangle that is expected, but is completely lacking in chemistry, as in all of a sudden OMG I WANT TO KISS HIM

The Summary:

It’s not like my whole world ends every day.”
Micah glances back at me as he slides out of the office. His face twists into a mixture of sympathy and disgust. “That douche bag was your whole world? I feel sorry for you.”

Glinda Elaine Mitchell (aka Lainey) is a 17-year old whose entire world revolves around her boyfriend of 2.5 years, Jason Chase. At the beginning of summer, Lainie gets unceremoniously dumped by Jason in front of her family's coffee shop.

Sobs force their way out of my throat. I feel like I’m trapped in a disaster movie where everything is shriveling into darkness and ash. Sunflowers are being uprooted. Puppies are being trampled. Whole cities are crumbling to dust.

Lainie's entire identity rests on being Jason's girlfriend. She is a school soccer superstar, she's good at school, she's one of the more popular kids---but Lainie feels she is nothing without Jason. Lainie can't stop thinking about him, worrying about him, making up imaginary scenarios about him.

A few days later, I have a dream about Jason lying in a ditch, calling out to me for help. It’s four o’clock in the morning when I sit up suddenly in my bed, positive he’s in some kind of trouble. I should call him. I mean, what if he’s really hurt somewhere?

Thankfully, she's got a good friend, Bianca (sometimes "Bee") who tries to give Lainey
“Don’t do it, Lainey.” Bee yawns. “Nothing says pathetic like a middle-of-the-night text message.”

With Jason, life was bliss. Lainey is nothing without Jason.

“It’s more than that, though. I can’t imagine my life without him. It’s like I try, but nothing makes sense. Everything was perfect, and now everything is crap. I need him back. I need everything to go back to the way it was.”

Lainey goes crazy when Jason doesn't answer her texts. Because that's sort of the point in breaking up with someone.

“You know what? I’m going to text him.” Before Bianca can stop me, I’ve got my phone out and I’m rattling off an “Is this about your dad?” text.
Thirty seconds. Forty-five seconds. A minute. There is no way Jason is not going to answer me. He always answers me.

Lainey wants to talk to Jason by any means necessary. Including stalking him.

"I know he has a ride-along shift so I can catch him if I go by his dad’s place in the morning.”
Bee leans against a tree and starts stretching her hamstrings. “You don’t think that’s a little stalkerish?”
“I think he shouldn’t have given me his schedule for all of June if he was going to break up with me at the beginning of the month,” I say.

And despite all this, she doesn't think she's clingy. Is she?

"You need to stay away from him at least for a few days, give him space, don’t be clingy.”
“I am not clingy,” I snap. At least I don’t think I am. Crap, now I’m having doubts about everything.

Bianca tells Lainey to stay away from Jason. It's a good strategy. Give him some time to think things through, miss her, want to get back together with her. Lainey can't stay awau because Jason is her life.

A strangled sound works its way out of my throat. “Three weeks without any contact from Jason would seem like several lifetimes. No way."

Because of her breakup with Jason, her summer is absolutely ruined. Hell, the next year is ruined.

The only thing that’s kept me sane without Jason the past couple of weeks is all the plotting and scheming in the name of getting him back. I try to imagine what my life would be like if it doesn’t happen. Days spent watching him from afar in the hallways, agonizing about whether to run toward him or away from him. Nights at home alone, wondering who he’s with.

Finally, Bianca has a brilliant idea. All's fair in love and war, therefore, it's perfectly reasonable to use war strategy to win Jason back. Enter Sun Tzu's The Art of War. She will use the book and the strategy within and recapture the enemy---Jason.

“It’s by a Chinese military strategist named Sun Tzu. It’s mostly about war, but people have applied it to all kinds of scenarios—business, law, college, sports, relationships.”
I squint at the cover. It figures brilliant Bianca would turn to some dusty schoolbook for advice. “You think a dead Chinese guy can help me get Jason back?”

Yeah, apparently dead Chinese dude can help. She employs the strategy, while finding an unexpected ally in Micah the mohawked bad-boy who works in the coffeeshop. He wants something, too. Micah has recently been dumped by his girlfriend, Amber. They're going to pretend to date each other to get their exes back.

And they absolutely have to succeed, because Lainey can't imagine a future without Jason.

How am I supposed to explain to him I won’t be okay if our plan doesn’t work? That without Jason I’m not even sure who I’d be anymore.

But in the process, will Lainey fall for Micah instead?! Fighting off the Mongol hordes is easy by comparison to the battles of the heart!111!1 Har har har.


There’s nothing wrong with my life. Well, there won’t be once I win Jason back. Most girls would trade places with me in an instant.

Pathetic. Desperate. Sad. Lifeless. No self-esteem. Her entire fucking identity is caught up Jaaaaaaaaaason, and this book was so painful to read. For half of the book, it's JASON JASON JASON then all of a sudden, BOOM, Jason, Micah, Jason. Yay.

Lainey is annoying. She doesn't stop talking. She's the kind of girl who "talks nonstop" and feels the need to constantly fill in the silence. People fall for her, and I just don't get it. This is one of those cases where I look at Jason who dumped her, and I roll my eyes and give him an understanding nod, saying "You got yourself out of here just in time, man, that chick is craaaaaazy."

She is a good student, she is a soccer star. She is awesome! And yet Lainey sees no other identity to herself besides that of being a popular guy's girlfriend. She makes fun of people. She mocks the goth/punk/alt kids at the coffee shop and at the other venues she goes to. She constantly calls people hookers and sluts, and she thinks the sun shines out of Jason's anal sphincter.


I purse my lips. “Jason isn’t a dick. He just found some other girl he likes better.”
Micah runs a hand through his mohawk. The humidity has mostly flattened it. “And then he dumped you at your job, in front of your friends.”
“He probably figured it was the one place I wouldn’t make a scene.”

Oh, do tell me again how Jason's not a dick? Jason is a fucking loser. He's a handsome guy, but he's a douchebag. He starts sleeping around the second after they break up. He ditches class. He's a terrible student. But Jason could be a serial killer and Lainey would still excuse him for it.

Jason is a bad-boy poster child. Cheats on tests. Skips class whenever he wants as long as it’s not soccer season.” She pauses. “Gets caught with weed in his locker?”
Okay, so maybe Jason is a little rough around the edges, but it makes him more interesting than someone who follows all the rules.

And knowing that Jason is such a motherfucking douchebag just makes me despise Lainey even more for being such a doormat for him.

The Romance:

“You’re like this punk-rock baker,” I say, shaking my head.

While Lainey is busy trying to win back the elusive Jason, she's finding time to fall in love with Micah. Micah, the asshole mohawk-wearing-chain-smoking-juvie-convict-coffeeshop-hipster-pierced-gangsta who listens to music that sounds like...

"...a bunch of cats being crushed by a steamroller"

Who, naturally, has a heart of gold. Their attraction is so completely lacking in chemistry, and I cannot understand Micah's attraction to Lainey unless it's one of those opposites-attract thing, and even then, WHY, MAN?!

“You’re about as alternative as skim milk, Lainey.”

She's clearly obsessed with a guy who's no good. She's an idiot who has no appreciation for anything that's not mainstream pop culture. She's an idiot, and their attraction to each other is so completely out of the blue for me.

And Micah? He's not exactly Prince Charming, he's a douche in disguise.

“Does he think I’m a hooker?”
Micah’s eyes flick momentarily to the hem of my miniskirt. He coughs into his hand. “Why would he think that?”

HOOKER HOOKER HOOKER: There is a whole lot of slut jokes in this book, and I found it completely unacceptable. People casually refer to each other as whores, sluts, hookers, they make references to pimp. Lainey calls people sluts, and in turn, is called a slut for the way she dresses.

“Nice dress, Lainey.” She rolls her tongue ring across her lower lip. “How are things on the corner?”

Final notes: The book mocks people with alternative, goth lifestyles. One of her coworkers is shamed by Lainey for her baldness (a choice). People with an interest in dominatrix/punk lifestyles are mocked and they refer to everything in submissive/dominant vocabulary. Pretty girls are assumed to have fake boobs and hair. It's altogether an offensive portrayal of anything that's not main-stream pretty.