10/24/2015

Loving Local: The Boyfriend Backtrack by Dawn Lanuza

Hello, purposefully grainy picture
Timing. 

People can have good or bad timing. Lately I've been feeling the same way with books. I seem to keep starting books but have trouble finishing them in one go. I crack open one book, get some chapters in, leave it, then head on to the next. It's not like the books are bad or uninteresting. I'm just not feeling any of them at the moment. And this is where timing comes in.

I know we've all been through this: we come across a book that we can relate to on so many levels that you fall in love with it instantly. You love it not really for the story or the writing or the characters. No. It's more than that. You love it because this is you in a book.

Well at least that's how I felt reading The Boyfriend Backtrack. Perhaps the book and I just had perfect timing because I've been "dealing" with something the past few weeks so I was more than glad to come across a book that described how I was feeling. Or Dawn Lanuza's honest writing got to me. Maybe it was both. 

That's the thing with this book; it paints you a picture that you don't often find in love stories. Usually we get either ends of the spectrum in romances: the ultra shy girl who comes out of her shell in the end or the fearless lover who freely expresses herself. But what about the girl in between? The girl who's confident enough to meet guys and go on dates but can't bravely handle confrontation and having to do "the talk" with someone? What about the girl who cruises along and pretends she's happy with something (or someone) until she can't take it any longer? What about the girl who simply can't deal right now but says I'll get to it when I have to... eventually? I'm probably making the protagonist, Regina, sound rather unappealing right now but trust me when I say this, she is as real is it can get. And that is precisely what made the book so enjoyable for me.

In less than 200 pages, Lanuza tells a story about a girl who I'm pretty sure a lot of readers will be able to relate to. Her relationships are the stuff of contemporary romances, that is to say we're treated to the right amount of feels (otherwise known as kilig, to Filipinos) which is expected of books in the same genre. I'm talking about the meet-cute, the rush, the chase, the falling apart, the getting back together — they're all in there. But what hooked me the most was Regina herself and her growth as the story progressed. She would avoid voicing out and acting on how she truly feels if she could. She reminds me a lot of myself in this way. I'm not always courageous. I don't always do what I know I should do in certain situations. I don't always have valid reasons for my avoidance. It's not always easy to be honest to other people, and I think it's even more difficult to do so with yourself. I don't think there are enough books that are this honest about these things. The writer tells it like it is. It's not frilly. It's not overly romanticized. It's simple but it has an impact, especially to women who can relate to Regina on such a personal level such as myself (I'm a woman?!). *winks* 

What's amazing is that even though Regina's passiveness was bordering annoying at times (I'm pretty sure I'm more annoying but it's different if you're reading about a fictional character's problems), there was still enough room for growth and it didn't seem so sudden once she turned things around. None of it felt forced, even though you can practically see the ending as soon as the book starts. The predictability did not take away the entertainment factor, trust me. The light humor in the present c/o Regina's friends and the fun flashbacks to her college days (and boyfriends) balanced the drama out perfectly. Overall, I think the story flowed smoothly from start to finish. A definite page-turner.

So... what's the verdict on this one? I pretty much gushed about it (in a low-key way) so you just know that I'm gonna be pimping this book out to contemporary romance junkies every chance I get! Get a copy and dive right into it. You will not regret it.

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P.S. Super thanks to Mina Esguerra for giving me a copy of the book!