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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

I LOVED this young adult book. It's perfectly charming, funny, quirky, and sweet, yet it deals with grief and fear, hope and forgiveness, being true to oneself and growing up, and of course love.

...we should grab every moment and absolutely devour the good parts.

I've been on a rom-com kick this summer, and while I'm picky about my light fiction reads, I've laughed and swooned over lots of wonderful books lately. (New Greedy Reading List to come!)

Lynn Painter's adorable young adult rom-com Better Than the Movies is about Liz Buxbaum, a fabulously eccentric high schooler coping with the grief of having lost her mom--while navigating the sparkly idea--and messy reality--of romance, with the inspiration of her mom's favorite romantic comedies.

Liz is a hopeless romantic who has been waiting her whole high school career to be swept off her feet in quintessential romantic-comedy fashion--with the perfect soundtrack playing in the background.

But it looks like she may have to rely on her annoying next-door neighbor Wes to try to gain the attention of dreamy Michael with the perfect hair, who has just moved back to town.

"I'm not a rom-com snob, whatever that even is, but a discerning viewer who expects more than a predictable plot with fill-in-the-blank characters."

Wes is the worst and he drives Liz crazy...except that now that she's got a plan to be noticed by Michael, Wes is actually being helpful. And he keeps saving her from disasters. And he's funny. And kind of cute. Too bad she's got her sights set on Michael. Michael is the plan, and all the funny, swoony, disastrous, ridiculous moments Liz and Wes are sharing are just...a burgeoning and unlikely friendship. Right? RIGHT?

I couldn't help it. Sharing private things about myself while sitting in the dark made me feel...something. Some kind of way.

Painter shapes believable young characters and I cared about their lives. Teen behavior feels perfectly expressed through characters' fixations on details of who said what and how, (mis)interpretations of looks or actions, the tricky negotiation of time spent with love interests, friends, and family, and their hilarious texting and in-person conversations.

Better Than the Movies is funny funny funny and so lovely and sweet, I adored the whole story, the characters, the growth, the banter, the heartbreaking, heartwarming growth, the fun--this is basically a perfect young adult romantic comedy.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Lynn Painter is also the author of The Love Wager, Betting on You, The Do-Over, Happily Never After, Mr. Wrong Number, and Accidentally Amy.

This is my first Lynn Painter book, but I loved it and I'm looking forward to reading more by her.


Maya Botha
Maya Botha
Nov 20, 2023

Great review! I also recently enjoyed BTTM, and can't wait to read more of the series. I loved everything about it, including the rom com references. I really hope they make an adaptation out of it.

Maya Botha
Maya Botha
Nov 20, 2023
Replying to

Agreed :) Somehow I see the guy who was Conrad in The Summer I Turned Pretty as Wes, just fits the bad boy look vibe haha

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