Not long ago I had the pleasure of reading Kelly Fiore’s Just Like the Movies, the story of two unlikely friends who set out to recreate scenes from their favorite romantic films in their own lives. Marijke and Lily are two girls with a plan…now if only the boys would fall into line.
(I should mention that I was reading this book while directing Deaf Camp, and that it kept me up for hours reading even after I had been corralling middle schoolers in the woods all day. That should tell you something about how engrossing it is!)
The heroines of this novel combine heartfelt yearning with a canny ability to analyze the tropes of the movies they adore so much – and that reminded me of an old favorite of mine, The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer. Though published way back in the dark ages of 1995, Plummer’s novel features a canny, smart heroine who would have been comfortable plotting alongside Marijke and Lily. (Though I guess she’d be quite a bit older now – so I will just imagine her as their English teacher, watching their antics from behind Tina Fey glasses.) Kate’s thing was romance novels, not romantic films, but her take on them was just as fresh and funny as Marijke holding an iPod dock blaring “In Your Eyes” in her boyfriend’s backyard. Despite the fact that Kate warns readers in the second sentence of the book that it’s “one of those romance novels. You know, that disgusting kind with kisses that last three paragraphs and make you want to put your finger down your throat to induce projectile vomiting,” her attempt to tell her tale as a romance novel (complete with revision notes) is involving and funny and something that is still in my mind almost twenty years later.
So do yourself a favor and get a hold of both books to meet Kate, Marijke, and Lily, three girls who discover that grand gestures don’t change a thing in real life, and that real love isn’t like a book or movie – it’s better.