Book Review: ‘My Life with the Walter Boys’ by Ali Novak

March 24, 2016     Holly     Reviews

Book Review: ‘My Life with the Walter Boys’ by Ali NovakMy Life with the Walter Boys (My Life with the Walter Boys #1) by Ali Novak
Series: My Life with the Walter Boys #1
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 1, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eBook, Kindle Edition
Source: Purchased
3 Stars

My Life with the Walter Boys centers on the prim, proper, and always perfect Jackie Howard. When her world is turned upside down by tragedy, Jackie must learn to cut loose and be part of a family again.

Jackie does not like surprises. Chaos is the enemy! The best way to get her successful, busy parents to notice her is to be perfect. The perfect look, the perfect grades - the perfect daughter. And then...

Surprise #1: Jackie's family dies in a freak car accident.

Surprise #2: Jackie has to move cross-country to live with the Walters-her new guardians.

Surprise #3: The Walters have twelve sons. (Well, eleven, but Parker acts like a boy anyway.)

Now Jackie must trade in her Type A personality and New York City apartment for a Colorado ranch and all the wild Walter boys who come with it. Jackie is surrounded by the enemy - loud, dirty, annoying boys who have no concept of personal space. Okay, several of the oldest guys are flat-out gorgeous. But still annoying. She's not stuck-up or boring - no matter what they say. But proving it is another matter. How can she fit in and move on when she needs to keep her parents' memory alive by living up to the promise of perfect?

Ali Novak’s My Life with the Walter Boys is the kind of read that I’m pretty sure could have been a fanfic at one point in time, under the right circumstances, and that fact leaves me a little conflicted. Did I hate this book? Not at all! But are there some definite flaws within the story? You betcha.

So here’s the deal: Jackie loses her entire family in a car accident and is shipped off by her unprepared uncle to live in Colorado with her mom’s college friend and her 12 children (11 boys and one girl that really wants to be like her big brothers), a far cry from her penthouse apartment in New York City. And, naturally, these Walter boys are all mega-cute. And as Jackie is trying her hardest to deal with her new life, her grief and her guilt over her family’s death, she finds herself in the middle of two Walter boys affections, Cole and Alex.

Sounds like a perfectly acceptable premise for a YA contemporary novel, and as a whole, it is. Novak’s writing style is fun and quirky, and kept a pace that was engaging and a page-turner. But the competing romance, that was obviously a main focus of My Life with the Walter Boys, became more exhausting and less exciting as the novel wore on. Let me explain why.

Jackie is a great narrator in her own right. She’s driven, focused, battling emotions that are normal for the situation she’s experiencing, and (most important) likeable. I enjoyed watching her growth as she branched out from her blinder-wearing world and started to experience new things with the Walter Boys. I really, truly, like Jackie.

And to be honest, I found the best part of the novel were her interactions with the Walter children that weren’t trying to make out with her. I liked that each one brought a new facet of her personality to light that Jackie herself wasn’t even aware that she had. Her concern as a friend for each one was sweet and just made me want to squish the entire Walter clan in a big old hug.

But then along came Alex and Cole.

When it comes to the love interests in My Life with the Walter Boys, I kind of just wanted to throw them through a window every time their names showed up. Alex was supposed to be sweet and nerdy, but he ended up treating Jackie like a shiny new toy to show off instead of a girl he was actually interested in. And Cole! Cole’s just kind of an ass all the way around, and even when Novak tried to justify his behavior, I found myself rolling my eyes and saying “Not good enough.” I couldn’t even find it in me to get behind one brother or another in the “Win the heart of Jackie!” game. Neither Walter treated her as she should have been treated, and in that regard, the romance aspect of the novel was lost on me.

But, with a potential companion novel on the way, I won’t say that I’ll leave the Walter universe forever. I liked the family as a whole, and so I can’t say that I didn’t like this novel. I could have just used a little less love-drama.


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