Book Review: Every Girl's Guide to Boys

, by Janine M.

Every Girl's Guide to Boys by Marla Miniano
Because two boys wanting you isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Chrissy thinks her life is problem free (she even sets up an online advice column to make use of all her good girl talent) till her best friend, the boy she's been in love with since she was maybe five, comes back from the US. Now this would be a good thing if she wasn't already in an unofficial, sort-of relationship with her long-time crush Nathan. Is it finally time for Chrissy to trash her good girl image and follow her gut? Or is she making the biggest mistake of her life?

Because I am so passionate about this "trilogy", I shall write as much spoilers as I can. I really am sorry about this Ms. Marla Miniano, but you are one heck of a talented writer.

Rule number 1: Not having (boy) problems is A Good Thing

The story opens with Chrissy describing how other people see her as a girl who has no problems at all which is probably due to her being a responsible, well-adjusted, level-headed, and mature-for-her-age teenager. She chooses to spend time with family than partying with friends on weekends. She has good grades and she has no record of ever being in trouble. Sounds like one of your girl friends right? Or maybe it sounds a bit like you, reader of this blog post. ☺
Rule number 2: Gather Information

Where the cutesy begins. ☺ Chrissy and friend-bordering-on-romantic-territory Nathan were in the car with the latter giving her the cold treatment. I found it funny 'cause I used to do that fake texting-a-cute-guy-and-letting-kilig-show-on-my-face when a crush was around. Well I grew out of it eventually. Heck, I was doing it in college. Not in high school. College. It was time to grow out of it! Hay, us females and our schemes. Back to the story, we learn that Chrissy owns a week-old online advice column/blog, which I so wanted to have for a long time now (as an anonymous writer of course), helping other teens with their problems about school, family, friends, and of course, love. We learn that Chrissy is a generous soul with a lot of good insight (chalk it up to her being mature for her age). Then mystery commenter "N" comes shaking everything up when it's revealed that he's Nico, a guy significant to our little protagonist's life.

Rule number 3: Know their strengths and weaknesses.
Nico was the first guy to break her heart. Her first best friend. A dinner date with Nico made Chrissy throw caution to the wind, pushing to the farthest corner of her mind the good things about Nathan, thinking that nothing else mattered but being with the love of her life. But he's back now. Here. With me. Chrissy is torn between an unresolved past and an unresolved present, utterly confused about which guy to choose. 

A funny line from this chapter:
"At that time, I did not have a concrete concept of crushes yet, but I knew I didn't like it when he spent Friday afternoons with Rebecca, a girl in his class who had shoulder-length silky locks, eyelashes that would automatically bat themselves at anything male that moved, and the longest legs I had ever seen on a fourteen-year-old." Friday. Rebecca. Get it? Get it? Haha. And no, this book was published way before Rebecca Black's Youtube fame.

Rule number 4: When in doubt, procastinate.
Chrissy tries to do everything she could to put off making a decision. But after a surprise late night visit, Chrissy appears to be leaning towards choosing Nico. Notable in this chapter is her relationship with her Dad, whose face lights up every time he sees her. Ah, parents' unconditional love. I love that it was mentioned here that she doesn't always say "po" and "opo" to her parents because sometimes it feels funny and forced. Well, I could relate. For me, it's not a sign of disrespect. I think it shows the closeness between child and parent. 

Rule number 5: Follow instructions.
Nico tells Chrissy that they should take things slow. Anna and Rickie (Chrissy's friends) are obviously siding with Nathan. Nathan is in bad shape yet never forgets to be nice to Chrissy. Nico's bad traits are slowly creeping their way up to the surface.

Rule number 6: Learn to listen.
A touching opening to the chapter is Chrissy being a sweet older sister to Justin who was crying because Gio, his playmate, has left for Cebu for good. Chrissy and friends make up. Justin, in his tender age, asks Chrissy why she stopped loving Nathan and if they are friends. Chrissy confronts Nico about not having commitment and ends up having her first kiss.

Rule number 7: Be honest with yourself.
Chrissy tells her friends about The Kiss. She learns from Miguel that Nathan is going out with Queenie Cooper. Fans bombard her blog with sympathetic comments. Chrissy replies coolly but between the lines, readers will see jealousy silently and secretly simmering.

Rule number 8: Pay attention to technicalities.
Enzo, Nico's cousin is in town. In a mini dress and killer heels, Chrissy learns that what she wants doesn't always mean what she needs. She gets drunk and who comes to the rescue? Nathan. The next day, she suffers from a hangover, and Nico's there to pick her up to take Enzo to the beach. Nico weaved a little tale to get her parents to agree to an overnight trip. What a very good influence, this guy.

Rule number 9: Know your boundaries.
Chrissy counts the pluses and minuses of the trip and gets hit in the face when Nico said he was glad she's his friend. They were found out by Chrissy's parents and she accepts the consequences. She lets go of Nico.

Rule number 10: Open your eyes to the infinite possibilities.
Chrissy spends her time being grounded wisely by making it up to her parents and her little brother. She sees sketches of her drawn by Nathan. 

My thoughts:
Nathan did not have a lot of exposure in the story but it was understandable for me. The focus here is on Chrissy and her realizations about life and love. Even a girl with a good head on her shoulders would experience some bumps in the road (yes life doesn't play favorites) that would cause her to act differently. Ultimately, the experience made her realize the things that truly matter to her, making her humble to admit her mistakes and poor choices (she's a teenager, so give her a break). We see the development of her character where in some parts she becomes a bit selfish and heartless while trying to sound very practical about it. Still, she speaks in a voice of someone who is truthful enough to admit that she doesn't exactly know what she's doing. I really liked the parting statement. I'm quite embarrassed to say that I'm turning 21 but it feels like I haven't learned anything about life yet and that I'd like to borrow the words of a sixteen-year-old girl. But I will borrow them. "I am still learning."

 Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Quotable Quotes (Homaygas, Ms. Miniano's way with words!):

  • I've had my heart broken by the occasional guy who won't like me back, but have never harbored a grudge and have always believed that true love is worth the wait. (page 9)
  • Nico never promised to return, and I have never taken this against him. But I think deep down, I have always been waiting. (page 28)
  • The ride home was quick and quiet. He took my hand without the slightest tinge of hesitation, like it was the most natural thing in the world. Like it was something he had always been meaning to do. Like he had never been gone. I didn't have to lean forward and stare at my painted fingernails for him to get the hint. I didn't even have to wait. He knew. I guess he always had. (page  33)
  • But at this moment, I do not know that I want . I cannot even make a list of the pros and cons of being with Nathan versus being with Nico, because who they are and what they mean to me are already starting to blend into each other, the edges and boundaries blurring into a massive wad of indecision that I will never fully grasp. (pages 34-35)
  • Because it is easy and logical enough to decide between what is right or wrong, or what your mind is saying versus what your heart is feeling---but how do you decide between two things you value in a similar manner and an almost equal amount? It is simple enough to let go of the past in favor of the present, but now that Nico is back and I realize that I'm genuinely thrilled about it, I don't know where that leaves Nathan. I don't know where that leaves me. (page 35)
  • If it was imperative for him to blame somebody, I wanted him to blame Nico---because based on the twisted logic of teenage romance, blaming the third party meant you are willing to put up a fight to save the relationship, or whatever was left of it. Because ultimately, it meant you were willing to forgive, to forget. To stay. (page 36)
  • It hits me now that I am actually part of a real live love triangle, and to think I have never even believed in love triangles. For me, it goes like this: You are attracted to one person, period. If you're lucky, he ends up being into you, too. And if someone else on the outside likes you, then that's his problem because he is not even part of the equation. There are only two points, and they can either intersect (it works out and you live happily ever after) or remain parallel to one another (it doesn't work out and you go your separate ways, blaming one another for your miserable existence). There is no third point, and there are no three sides. There is no freakin' triangle formed. (page 41)
Now something that hit me. Chrissy's answer in her advice to a certain Romeo.
  • But this is what I think: the reason she's trying to rebuild the friendship is that she has finally moved on. Hasn't it occurred to you that perhaps she just misses being your friend, and you are turning it into this whole telenovela scenario where she's the villain trying to waltz back into the picture and you're the poor guy who just wants to be left alone? You don't deal with the pain that keeps following you around---you just let go of it. (pages 46-47)
  • I wonder if he's still mad at me, and I understand why people tend to force friendships immediately after things don't work out between them romantically---it's to dilute the guilt and dissolve the weight of all the things that were left unsolved, to prove that they don't completely hate each other, that they're not completely cruel, that they're not completely shutting each other out. (page 58)
  • Friends judge each other all the time, and judgment doesn't hurt any less when it comes from people who actually have the right to pass it. (page 62)
  • Judgment, when it comes from friends, feels like a betrayal not just because friends aren't supposed to judge each other, but because it is often more accurate than we would want to admit. (pages 62-63)
  • But he's the one who asks, "How are you?" and the way he says it makes it sound like a valid question. His genuine concern for me is peeking out from underneath all the layers of hurt, and I want to push it back down and tell it to stay put. I want him to go from careful to cautious to cold to cruel. (page 65)
  • I wonder how some couples can do that---be together for an entire lifetime and not get bored with each other. I wonder how you keep track of the bigger picture, your marriage, above the errands and deadlines and all the little things that stress you out every day. (page 69)
  • And then he pulls his arm tighter around me and starts kissing me, and I am a bundle of nerves but I find myself actually kissing him back. I always thought my first kiss would be weird and honestly kind of gross, but this is incredibly romantic and overwhelming in a good way and...well, exactly how a first kiss should be. (pages 89-90)
  • Funny how we spend most days of our lives avoiding the complex truths we don't want to hear, and yet they always come so simple and solid once they're said out loud. The truth becomes irrevocable once it's brought out in the open---and maybe that's why we're constantly concealing it in the shadows. (page 127)
  • But no matter how much two people change, I think they have to believe that underneath all the layers, they are still fundamentally one and the same. I think that's a requirement for friendship, and for love, because otherwise, there just won't be enough common ground to build anything upon. (page 127)
  • And you realize that the girl looks familiar because she looks a lot A happy you, a sad you, an annoyed you, a bored you---all captured fondly by hands belonging to someone who obviously appreciates all these various aspects and facets of yourself. Draw what you love, he said. And he chose to draw YOU. (page 136)
  • And then you can wait for him to squeeze your hand and smile at you like you are the only person in the world for him. You can wait for him to tell you, "It has always been just you. And it will always be just you," before putting an arm around you and offering to walk you to your car. You can wait for him to do this. Because he will. (page 138)
  • Forgiveness---I guess that's what this past month has truly been about. People hurt you, and lie to you, and take you for granted, and treat you badly, but eventually you learn to forgive. You learn to forgive because you have your own shortcomings and imperfections. You learn to forgive because life is too short to be bitter and angry. You learn to forgive because it is the only way you can move forward. (page 139)
  • But right now, I have my own problems to find solutions for, my own mistakes to make, my own dreams to chase, and ultimately, my own happiness to create. Because, much like you, I am still learning. (page 139)


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