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.
I hate when this happens, although the cover and premise would have caught my eye too! ‘I’ll explain later’ would be frustrating once, but several times? No.
Also, it was published by St Martins, a press i usually like!
This one is in my TBR stack – I picked it because of the over!
I’d love to know what you think. It wasn’t all bad, but i just couldn’t get past the “I’ll explain later” to her husband all the time. Weak writing! I don’t know how that made it past an editor!
I’ll probably be hyper-aware of that now!
I like your ‘Who would like this’ comment, Tanya. You have more persistence than me – I think I would have given it up at the second ‘I’ll explain later’.
Those questions are intriguing… they almost make me want to read the book despite its drawbacks. I wonder if there is another, better book out there that asks the same questions?
Exactly. The premise was sound, the execution not so much.
I would definitely have picked this up based on the cover. Why are we so shallow? My mom has long suffered the effects of being bullied in school – I wonder if this is a book that she would enjoy or would trigger memories?
Hmm. I don’t know. Not to give too much away but the bully ends up not having a great life.
They never do, Tanya. Usually bullies peak in highschool.
Thanks for the warning. I think I’m starting to draw a line on the popular trend of novels with people’s names in the title. Such as Joe Joe McKenzie’s Last Day or Suzie Smith’s Ride Out of Omaha or what have you. Ha. It’s just I’m tiring of it ….
You are so right. Names in titles should be a red flag.