Book Review: Not Exactly a Love Story by Audrey Couloumbis

Title: Not Exactly a Love Story

Author: Audrey Couloumbis

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Release Date: December 11, 2012


Book Summary:

It’s 1977. 

Fifteen-year old Vinnie isn’t having a good year. He’s recovering from the worst case of galloping acne his dermatologist’s ever seen. His girl moved to California without even saying good-bye. And the ink on his parents divorce papers is barely dry, when his mom announces that they’re moving from Queens to Long Island.

The silver lining in all this is that they move next door to Patsy—everyone’s dream girl. Not that she’d ever notice him. But when Vinnie calls Patsy one night, it leads to a chain of anonymous midnight conversations. Under the cover of darkness, Vinnie becomes Vincenzo, Patsy’s mystery caller, and the two share a side of themselves they would never reveal in daylight and develop a surprisingly real connection (despite the lies it’s built on). As Vinnie gets to know Patsy in real life though, it becomes clear both identities can’t survive and he’ll have to find a way to hangup the phone and step into the daylight. Fraught with complications and crackling with witty dialogue, and all the angst and electricity that comes with always being just a phone wire away from the one you want, acclaimed author Audrey Couloumbis’s YA debut is a smooth-talking Cyrano meets Saturday Night Fever and tells a quirky, flirty, and smart story that will appeal to fans of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Frank Portman’s King Dork, Natalie Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye in Robot, and John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines. It’s not exactly a love story . . . but it’s pretty close. 

I listened to this audiobook while commuting to my job and while working.  It was a cute story without any complication.  Vinnie is a typical underdog who underestimates his abilities, athletic, smarts, and popularity potential.  Patsy is your typical popular girl, who use to be an outcast.  I could related to both these characters – despite having nothing in common with Patsy.  There were times that I found Vinnie to be fake and unlikeable – I think that had something to do with the personas he was trying to keep up for Patsy, both as himself and as Vincenzo.  But overall I really liked how he was written and how he developed throughout the story.  I love how Patsy developed throughout the story – she turned into a real person not just a typical, stereotypical blonde popular high school girl.
The story as a whole was cute and well written.  I found the events believable.  The only problem I found was that I didn’t even realize that this was written in a specific time period (the 70s).  Obviously it wasn’t in present time because they weren’t using cellphones but actual landline phones.  This is nothing against the story exactly, but I was surprised to read that it was based in 1977 when starting this review (I had read the description ages ago).
Overall, this was a nice easy read (or I guess listen for me).  I actually put aside another book I was reading in order to finish this one – listening to it on my lunch instead of reading the physical book I had brought with me.  I would recommend this as a summer read or if you just want something cute with an underdog story.  I have a soft spot for the underdogs and despite the fake feeling I had every once and a while with Vinnie, I couldn’t help but root for him.
I guess I should mention that the voice narration was great. The narrator had a believable voice for Vinnie and he did a great job doing the voices for the rest of the characters too – including the Italian New York accent!

Rating:  4/5 Stars- Great Book

Content: some violence including bullying, mugging, and sexual aggression.  Some sexual content including sexual aggression against main female character, spying on female undressing, bully bragging about sexual conquest of female character, some innocent teenage sexual talk.  Mention of under-age drinking (wine of dinner), teenage smoking, and adult chewing tobacco. Occasional use of coarse language including use of the F word.
Source: Audiobook from Library
This book can be purchased at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Chapters Indigo