Title: Love, Lucy
Author: April Lindner
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While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food…and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her “vacation flirtation.” But just because summer is over doesn’t mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too. (Source: Goodreads)
This modern adaptation of E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View follows Lucy and her friend, Charlene, as they back-pack across Europe before heading off to university. In Florence they meet Jesse, a street musician, with whom Lucy immediately develops a relationship. When their trip ends however, Lucy heads back to university and leaves the romance behind. It haunts her through the first month of school, until communication with Jesse drops off. Lucy has to decide if this summer fling is completely over and she should move on with her “perfect guy”, Shane, or hang on and wait for Jesse.
I really wanted to love this book, it sounded like just my kind of book. I really, really didn’t love it though. I didn’t realize it was an adaptation of A Room with a View, had I known I probably still would have read it, but would have had much different expectations. Either way though, it wouldn’t have lived up to those expectations. The writing was bland, the characters were inconsistent and uninteresting, the plot was confusing, and I didn’t feel anything at all, mostly just mad.
This book was so boring! I know that for a lot of people A Room with a View is boring, but the much more memorable movie adaptation is far from boring. And the movie’s pretty true to the book. The thing is, there’s a lot of really great, interesting, exciting things that happen in that book. And there weren’t in this one. Lindner took the main plot points of A Room with a View kind of flattened the all down, removed the emotional peaks, and took a story full of love and romance, and produced a story about a jealous, spoiled girl with absolutely no concern for anyone but herself. Obviously, I really didn’t enjoy this book at all. The main thing that kind of stands out as an example of Lindner taking the romance of A Room with a View and kind of…destroying it, is the kiss in Fiesole. In the original George’s kiss comes so suddenly it stops your heart for a moment, it’s unexpected and enchanting. In Love, Lucy there’s not a trace of romance to it, there’s no surprise, it just kind of happens and you expect it, and it just felt disappointing.
The characters were all kind of…unlikeable. Lucy trades in her dreams for a trip to Europe, which makes no sense whatsoever. Then she goes to Europe throws away her trip for a less than interesting male lead. She then becomes weird and develops this unexplained jealousy regarding Jesse. While she bitches about him being unromantic she also does nothing romantic or really reaches out to him. She just felt kind of lazy, spoiled, and whiny. I didn’t feel for her at all. She gives up her dreams to her bully of a father, but she really doesn’t do anything to stop him bulldozing her. The romantic lead, Jesse, is boring. He doesn’t have the mystery and quirk of George Emmerson. There’s also hardly any hint of romance, he’s also just weirdly spoiled and very flaky. Shane, who takes the place of Cecil is supposed to be Lucy’s “perfect guy”. He was kind of…weird and peer-pressure-y to me. He basically forces Lucy into going away on a trip she’s not comfortable with to try and have sex with her. Jesse implies she’s settling for Shane, but really she just seems to be after his money, as she constantly mentions how wealthy he is. The rest of the characters are a kind of melting pot of bland, supporting characters, none of whom standout. Even Charlene, the stand-in for Charlotte, is…pretty bleh.
Along with the obvious comparison to A Room with a View this book reminded me of a few other YA books about travelling. The first is Gayle Forman’s Just One Day. This book came to mind because of the quick development of the relationship, and the kind of whirlwind aspect of it all. What Just One Day has though is romance and a fantastic cast of interesting characters. This book also makes constant references to theatre, which figures strongly into Forman’s book, but it doesn’t do it in any significant way and just feels like such a waste of space. This book has all the elements of Love, Lucy but amped up, romantic, interesting, with emotion, and feeling (so much feeling). I also could help but think of Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. This came to mind so many times because the name of the travel guide Lucy constantly uses if Wanderlust. The trouble was it just acted as a constant reminder of how good Wanderlove was and how not good Love, Lucy was.
There were a lot of really minor details about this book that kind of pissed me off, probably because I already felt like I was wasting my time reading it. The first was that Lucy auditions for plays, but Lindner doesn’t even bother to pick monologues or songs for her to sing. This is such a huge thing to me, because this detail could add so much to Lucy’s character. It also to me felt like laziness, and made me feel a bit like if she couldn’t be bothered then why should I? Another thing was this weird referencing to hipsters, but it felt a little like Lindner didn’t even know what they were. She treats them like they’re some strange creature never encountered at all, but I mean it’s university hipsters are everywhere especially in an arts program. It just felt like one of those old-person-trying-to-sound-young moments. This basically my relatives who’ve never seen a hipster would definitely act this way.
I feel so annoyed about this book, it’s probably too fresh still, but I just felt like I wasted my time reading this. It was okay, I can see that it was carefree, light, and maybe could be fun, but to me it was just a huge let-down. I don’t recommend this book.