Thursday, January 7, 2010

Review: The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

Published by Point on December 29, 2009

Summary from Goodreads: Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It's a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like. . .

Penny Lane Bloom is tired of how boys treat her. She does not appreciate being cheated on or being dump when a boy has gotten what he wants. So, she has decided that she’s done with them. No more dating until she is out of high school. Penny starts The Lonely Hearts Club (LHC). The rules of the LHC state that members will not date while they are in high school. They will attend couples events (such as dances and parties) together as a group, and they must be supportive of each other. Within a few weeks the LHC becomes very popular, with new members joining every day. Penny needs to figure out if girls are joining because they want a break from boys or to be part of the new group. Then Penny realizes that she has feelings for a very nice guy, what is the leader of The Lonely Hearts Club to do?

The Lonely Hearts Club is a fun, fast read. The title comes from the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Penny’s parents are Beatles fanatics, naming all three of their daughters after Beatles songs, taking yearly trips to Liverpool, and being vegetarians because of Paul McCartney’s beliefs. Beatles songs and lyrics are woven into the story; favorite songs, tribute band concerts, and karaoke always involve the Beatles in some way. Rather than rebel against her parent’s love of the Beatles, Penny joins them in their devotion of the Fab Four.

The characters feel very real, you could probably find many of them at your local high school. The main trio of girls includes Penny, the fearless leader, Tracey, who has never had a boyfriend and desperately wants one, and Diane, who just broke up with her boyfriend of four years. At the beginning of the book, the reader can feel Penny’s heartbreak and disappointment in and anger towards boys. It makes sense that she would seek help and comfort from her friends. But, sometimes Penny can be a bit too harsh, putting every boy under the same label: the enemy. She becomes hyperaware of many of her male classmates and how they act around girls, except for the one who is interested in her, who she dismisses as the ultimate guy’s guy. It was nice to see Penny loosen up throughout the book, as she gets to know some of her male classmates and begins to see that not all boys are jerks.

It was clear from very early in the book who Penny’s eventual love interest would be. After a few misunderstandings, she finally lets herself have feelings for him. While I was reading, I wanted to tell Penny to open her eyes and heart to the wonderful guy who was trying to get her attention. But, I understand that Penny had to be ready for the relationship and ready to let go of her no dating rule. If they got together too early, the relationship would not have felt real. Plus, the book would have been much shorter.

It was nice to read about girls who were supportive of each other and positive role models. Eulberg reiterates the importance of maintaining friendships and not getting too wrapped up in a boyfriend, so that other friends begin dropping out of your life. The reader can see that in Penny’s friendships with Tracey, Diane and a few other core LHC members. The ultimate goal of the LHC is to have a group of friends who will always be there to offer support and balance in your life.

Overall a strong debut novel. Elizabeth Eulberg is an author to keep your eye on.

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