ARC Review: How to Break a Boy

Author: Laurie Devore 
Genre: YA Contemporary
Page Length: 352 Pages
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Source: ARC via publisher
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Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.

Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do--through intimidation and manipulation.

After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change--but it's impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne's war.

Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won't go down without a fight--not if it means losing Whit.

And definitely not if it means losing what's left of herself.
If I were to pitch this book I'd say it's reminiscent of Mean Girls. While some compare it to Pretty Little Liars I have to disagree. PLL is more juvenile and superficial whereas How to Break a Boy is much more powerful. And the pranks are downright cynical.

How to Break a Boy was not the light, fun read I thought it would be. It was addictive and I did like it in the end though. This book contains the most frustrating and unlikable protagonist ever. Olivia Clayton is a mean girl. She has intimidated and scared the student body into respecting her and she and her best friend Adrienne rule their school. I was shocked by the level of malicious attacks and insults these girls spewed at their classmates. This book really gives a deep look at the lust for popularity and the troubles of toxic friendships. The high school drama felt real, but the horrible pranks these girls pulled and the responses of the students were a tad unrealistic. I can't believe there were no huge repercussions for their actions throughout the years and that the students all listened to and revered Olivia and Adrienne.

Olivia Clayton's character is one of the most confusing and complex. I wanted so badly to like Olivia, but she does bad things, acknowledges that they're bad, feels horrible afterwards, and hates herself for it. Why can't she just not do the bad things?? I understand the pulls of popularity, but she fails to draw the line. Her character is what really drives the story and made me kept reading. I wanted to see if she'd redeem herself, and I realized I was rooting for her the entire time. There are so many times in this book when she's faced with a decision to do good or bad, but does she choose to be her best or worst self? It was painful at times to see her choices play out and hurt those around her including herself. But also there were triumphant moments when I saw her make the right decision. Overall the character growth in this book was impeccable.

I felt that Laurie Devore did a great job creating a backstory for Olivia that helped readers understand why Olivia acts the way that she does. Laurie really delved into the reasons why Olivia craved popularity and did all the bad things she did. In no way does that excuse Olivia for her actions, but I appreciated that this book gives such an introspective view on why. Laurie's writing was sharp and impactful. Teens can relate to and learn from so many of the ideas Laurie tackles in this book. The pacing was good, and although I didn't like everything that happened in this book, Laurie did a wonderful job with plotting.

Olivia and Adrienne have a toxic friendship in this book. I'm shocked by so many of their interactions, especially as they fought to take each other down. How to Break a Boy really highlights the manipulation and possessiveness that comes from toxic friendships.

I really enjoyed the romance in this book. I love that Whit challenges Olivia and never lets her get away with anything. He brings out the best in her and holds her accountable for her actions just as Olivia brings out a new side of Whit. The progression in their relationship felt realistic and I loved all of their moments together. They had such great chemistry!

Overall I really enjoyed this book. If you're looking for a book with an amazing romance, teen drama, and immense character growth then I recommend you check this out!
Rachel is a teenaged unapologetic fangirl and perfectionist.

She loves reading for the escape it gives from reality and enjoys crying over books, swooning over characters, and laughing out loud over funny lines. She is a semi-recovering Netflix addict and a middle child of three.

You can find her on Twitter @yaperfectionist & Goodreads.


  1. I am super excited to pick this book up when it comes out! It sounds like something I'd like, even though I do shift more towards light and fluffy reads rather than more addictive and dark books but I'll have to make an exception for this one! ;)

    xx Anisha (Sprinkled Pages)

  2. OOH I haven't heard of this book but it sounds really good! I don't generally read books with unlikable protagonists as most of the time I need to love the character in order to enjoy the book, but if there's a considerable amount of character growth I might give this a go! Great review, Rachel! :)


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