This is one of those times when I judged a book by its cover and paid the price. I really like the look of The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks. I even like the premise – a PTA mom going back to get revenge on her high school bully. But ultimately, it fell flat for me. The plot, the writing, everything. That doesn’t mean I didn’t finish it – I did. It was a quick read and relatively brainless. Like a movie that you’d rent but never see in the theatre.
Maybe my harsh critique comes from one pet peeve. To everything that happens in the book, Caroline Jacobs says to her husband “I’ll explain later.” To me this is a narrative crutch that should never be used. You can gloss over details in so many ways, to say “I’ll explain later” is just weak. To do it more than once is lazy. Where was the editor on this?
On the other hand, Dicks does truly capture the lingering effects of bullying. Being left out feels awful. Being deliberately hurt is the worst. And all of this comes through in his novel. He also draws life as a teenage girl and later as a grown women with great sensitivity. So it’s not all bad.
Who would like this book? You know there was someone who made you feel like shit in high school. What if you could now make that person feel the same way? Would you do it? Is revenge sweet? If these questions intrigue you, then The Comeback of Caroline Jacobs may be a balm for you. It is not a challenging read, but could fill a nice rainy afternoon.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.