We Can Work It Out (The Lonely Hearts Club #2)
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg (website | twitter)
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Source/Format: ARC provided by Scholastic Canada in exchange for an honest review (thank you so much!)
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | IndieBound | iTunes | Google Books
When Penny Lane started The Lonely Hearts Club, the goal was simple: to show that girls didn’t need to define themselves by how guys look at them, and didn’t have to value boyfriends over everything else. Penny thought she’d be an outcast for life…but then the club became far more popular than she ever imagined it would be.
But what happens when the girl who never thought she’d date a good guy suddenly finds herself dating a great one? She doesn’t need a boyfriend… but she wants it to work out with this particular boyfriend. And he wants it to work out with her.
Only, things keep getting in the way. Feelings keep getting hurt. Words keep getting misunderstood.
Penny Lane worked hard to declare her independence. Now she needs to figure out what to do with it — and how to balance what she wants with what everyone else wants. In We Can Work It Out, Elizabeth Eulberg returns to the world of her first novel, The Lonely Hearts Club, and gets to the heart of how hard relationships can be… and why they are sometimes worth all the drama and comedy they create.
If you haven’t read Elizabeth Eulberg’s The Lonely Hearts Club, stop right there. Go back and read it immediately, then the three e-novellas that she’s written since. Done that? Good. Now you’re ready to read my review.
It’s not that We Can Work It Out is unable to be read as a stand-alone. It is, and it can be. But the thing is, you will appreciate this book so much more when you’ve experienced the entire story of Penny Lane Bloom. Because this time around, the stakes are higher, the club is bigger, and Elizabeth Eulberg has taken on the very difficult challenge of trying to show how a high school relationship really works.
It’s hard. As a reader, you see how Penny is desperately trying to be everything to everyone. She’s a leader at school and in the club, she’s still trying to stand up to jerks who think the club is “just for dykes”, she’s a confidante for most of the club, and Ryan gets shunted to the side a bit.
The thing that Elizabeth Eulberg does quite successfully here is remind us that a romance – especially one in high school, is often a mirror for a person’s insecurities. You see yourself reflected in that mirror, and with many girls in high school, you’re a bit scared of what you see because your thoughts about yourself are not fully formed yet.
That’s what happens with Penny in We Can Work It Out, and instead of trying to work with her feelings and thoughts about herself, she puts them – and Ryan aside. She says she’s fine when she’s not. She throws herself into planning an event because she can’t face up to her own fears and insecurities. She makes excuses for why she and Ryan can’t be together.
We Can Work It Out is so much about the growing pains of relationships. This book, to me, was a much harder one to write than The Lonely Hearts Club, because frankly, the idea of “what happens after they ride off into the sunset together” is not explored that often in contemporary YA – much less a whole book devoted to it. But Eulberg is up to the task.
Teens will relate to how much pressure Penny puts on herself – as a teenager, so many people are talking at you, and telling you what to do – and sometimes, that can be absorbed in a way that makes teens put a lot of pressure on themselves.
This book is a lesson in commitment and balance. It’s about learning from your friends and trying to see everyone’s perspective, and trying to balance that with what you believe. It’s also about admitting when you need help and learning to let go a bit.
I read We Can Work It Out in a few short hours, and it was so much fun to be back in Penny’s world again. This book was a tad more dramatic than the first, but I felt it had a lot more wisdom than the first.
And lest you think this book is all about serious stuff, there’s plenty of hilarity, cuteness and romance, too.
Kick-Ass Friendships: For those of you who have read The Lonely Hearts Club, you know that Tracy Larson, Penny’s best friend, and Diane Monroe, perfect high-school-prom-queen-type-turned-Lonely-Hearts-Club-leader are the best. They perfectly balance out Penny’s confusion with much-needed humour and practicality. In this book, we get more of their self-discovery, and more of their amazing support.
Everyday Romance: What I loved most about Ryan and Penny’s relationship is that they are so funny and sweet and NORMAL together. The jokes they make at each other are so much like the jokes that my husband and I have with each other – they just feel comfortable and great together. You can’t help but root for them everytime they’re together. And yeah, Ryan is INCREDIBLE.
Idealism and Feminism: If you’ve read book 1, you know that Penny and her friends are world-class feminists. But in this book, they take that feminism and put it into action, inspiring a whole new league of girls to create communities of support and creating their own ways of giving back outside of their own Club. It’s beautiful and a bit idealistic, but I think it’s definitely a book that will empower and inspire young teens.
The Final Word:
Elizabeth Eulberg writes YA for girls who want to learn to stand alone and be there for one another. We Can Work It Out is no different. Although it’s a little bit dramatic, this book was honest and authentic about being a teenage girl in her first really good relationship, and the good things that can come of having an amazing support system.
Recommended for: fans of The Lonely Hearts Club and Elizabeth Eulberg, younger teens who need a bit of empowerment and feminism, people who like sweet YA contemporary romance.
WE CAN WORK IT OUT comes out January 27, 2015. Want to win an Advanced Reader’s Copy RIGHT NOW? Check out my giveaway below – US/Canada only because I want to get this out to you this weekend!