“Some things, and some people, are written across your soul in permanent ink.”
Book: The Lovely Reckless
Author: Kami Garcia
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?
To be honest, my first thought after reading this book was about Katie McGarry’s Crash Into You (Fabulous book, by the way). From the surface, the books look similar. Rich girl who doesn’t get along with her family meets rough, promiscuous, “dangerous” boy who’s a great racer. She stops being judge-mental about him and his friends,and family. They bond and friendship turns into something more complicated. The star-crossed lovers get involved in crime.
To make this different, Garcia covers much more. It doesn’t work well. Along with romance, this book attempts to tackle issues like mourning, moving on and unhealthy relationships (as may be obvious from the blurb). Somewhere in between, she slips in standard warnings about addictions and praises close girl friendships. The resulting novel seems cliched, almost insultingly simple analyses of issues that deserve more thought and sensitivity.
Each character is a stereotype. There’s the main character, Frankie, a rich, traumatized girl with a family that doesn’t understand her, and friends who have drifted apart. The inspiration for the love interest probably came from a stock-photo labelled “hot bad-boy”. Of course, he has an instantaneous soft-spot for Frankie. Obviously, he has a cute, traumatized sister that makes Frankie realize that she has it good and that she and Marco ‘belong together’. I kept waiting for the twist because I thought I knew what it was: Since, Frankie blocked out the memory of her ex being beaten to death in front of her for drug related issues, and Marco had friends who were involved in drug related crime, I thought the conflict of the story would have been Marco knowing who killed Frankie’s ex and not telling her about it.
Yeah, no such twist came.
The romance was frankly super unhealthy; my head’s still spinning from the insta-love. Though this book supposedly features street-racing, the fastest thing in this book is the romance. Frankie and Marco went from zero to hundred in about 2 seconds flat. Like most spontaneous teen relationships in YA books, it’s not very healthy. Marco’s awfully possessive and Frankie seems to be okay with it, even flattered. Considering these characters are high-school students, I want to scream at them; high-school boys really shouldn’t be so domineering.
Moving onto story-line. If you’re excited about reading this book because you saw the words “street”and “racing”, you will be disappointed. There’s maybe two scenes and they’re not very descriptive. This book has a terrible plot and it deserves to be spoiled. But, just in case the hundreds of favorable reviews on Goodreads have convinced you to read this book (I maintain that I received a different copy of the book), I won’t spoil it for you. Instead, I’ll just tell you that the main conflict in this book revolves around the “Adults are clueless/evil” trope that’s pretty standard to the YA genre.
Now that I’ve complained so much about this book, you want to know if there is anything redeemable about this book. Well…I liked Cruz. She’s Marco’s friend and befriends Frankie. Though raised by an abusive father, she makes sure she protects her sisters (even if she has to do some stupid, dangerous stuff to do that). She’s so confident about her place in the world, I am amazed by her strength. Garcia probably should have written about Cruz. The writing style wasn’t too bad either. Despite all these issues, I managed to make it to the end of the book.