Review: MY Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak

Title: My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: March 1, 2014 by SourceBooks Fire
Format: Trade Paperback
Source: Library Loan
Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon


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?

My Thoughts

My Life with the Walter Boys was one of those "pleasant surprise" kind of books. A friend gave it a great review so I decided to give it a try. While I wasn't blown away, it was still an enjoyable YA contemporary and I found myself more invested than I thought I would be.

At 16 Jackie loses her parents and sister suddenly in an accident. Her upper crust NYC penthouse lifestyle changes dramatically when she is sent to live with her mother's friend in Colorado. Life on a ranch is a shock to city-girl Jackie but the biggest adjustment? The Walter's have 12 sons (well, there's one daughter but she is very much one of the guys). Prim and proper Jackie is suddenly thrust into the chaotic Walter home where there's constant noise and activity, a schedule for morning showers, and rarely any privacy.

It was obvious that, surrounded by so many teenage boys, there was bound to be some romantic drama and indeed that seemed to make up the bulk of the story. Jackie had an almost-instant attraction to Boy A (no spoilers here) while trying to fit in and make friends with the rest of the boys. While things were rocky with Boy A, there was an ease with Boy B that left Jackie confused about her feelings. Much drama ensues. Meanwhile, Jackie starts at a new school, makes friends, and tries to fit into her new life.

I did have a couple issues that kept me from enjoying the book more and rating it higher. Mainly, Jackie's grief was almost non-existent. Maybe she was unnaturally stoic but it was still pretty unbelievable that a 16 year old girl dealt so calmly and neatly with the loss of her entire family. Her new guardians made no move to talk to her about her loss or get her some grief counseling. I would say that Jackie was so unemotional that she was almost robotic but that's not true - because she had plenty of emotional turmoil over her feelings for her crushes, just not so much over her deceased parents and sister. The ball was really dropped here.

Secondly, it was often transparent that Boy B was doing/saying things(about his relationship with Jackie) right in front of Boy A solely to get a reaction. I didn't necessarily doubt his feelings for Jackie but there was also some serious competition with his brother and he often used his relationship with Jackie as a way to twist the knife and play one-upmanship. And it seemed that Jackie was completely oblivious to this. There were several scenes where I found myself wanted to shake some sense into her and have see what was happening right in front of her face.

Overall My Life with the Walter Boys was an entertaining read but lacked any real depth. Those looking for a lighter YA contemporary that is more romance-focused will likely enjoy this one.

3.5/5 stars

What are you reading this weekend?

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