Kate Evangelista’s THE BOYFRIEND BRACKET is a cute but predictable YA contemporary romance.
The Boyfriend Bracket by Kate Evangelista is a fun and lighthearted read with a semi misleading title. Being that this is a review without spoilers, it is hard to talk about the majority of the book, seeing as the plot takes a rather predictable twist less than halfway through the story.
The book follows Stella as she tries to get over the massive crush she has on her older brother’s best friend, Will. Now that Will and Cam, Stella’s brother, are heading off to college, Stella decides it’s time to move on, and creates the titular boyfriend bracket. She sets up dates with eight different boys, looking to narrow it down until she reaches the ultimate, perfect boyfriend. But the plot doesn’t focus entirely on the boyfriend bracket, instead focusing on the story between Stella and Will, and the tension between them. And that is all I can really say about the plot without spoiling the story! But, I will add, there is a makeover scene for Stella, because how else would she be noticed other than by changing her appearance! Because feminism!
While this story was cute, everything about it was undeniably cliched and expected. What I did like was that Stella and Cam were Filipino. Unfortunately, it is still rare to see protagonists being people of color, so that was a refreshing change of pace. That being said, Stella’s character seems to be defined by one major trait, and that is her fixation with finding a relationship. From the first page of the book, it’s her primary concern. While I don’t mind a character with a love of boys (Nicole from Zoey 101 comes to mind), its infuriating that this is her dominant characteristic. It feels like a caricature of a high school girl. Honestly, I think I was just too old for the book, because while it might have been captivating for Middle School Rebecca, 22-year-old Rebecca just kept looking for more.
Cam, Stella’s brother, was also pretty boiled down to a single basic characteristic: overprotective big brother. Cam has a history of scaring off boys who are interested in Stella. This isn’t a trope that is seen too often in modern media, which I think is ultimately a good thing. First and foremost, girls don’t need a big brother to protect them, and I, for one, am tired of media saying otherwise. Girls don’t have some big blind spot just because a set of abs can be seen. Generally, girls have a pretty good sense about these kinds of things. People underestimate girls too much to begin with, and there is no reason to perpetuate that. Secondly, as someone with an older brother, a best friend with an older brother, and a plethora of friends and acquaintances with older brothers, I can say with the utmost authority that no older brother goes to those lengths to scare off boys. My brother would sit on my face while we watched TV, wouldn’t let me leave while he played X-Box because I was his “good luck charm” (I think he was just lonely), and stole my makeup the first time he saw me putting it on, but he never once asked, noticed, or cared about the guys I was seeing. I fact checked this assertion with a friend, and she corroborated my conclusion. I think it is important to add that neither my friend or I are Filipino, so this may be a cultural difference. That being said, I feel there would be and should be more to the character than the protective nature, whether it be realistic or exaggerated.
I would like to be able to talk about the love interests, but I can’t without giving anything away, so I will move onto pacing. Wow this book moved fast. If you want a slow burn, then you went to the wrong book. The “getting to the romance” aspect was not as big of an element as you might expect with a title like The Boyfriend Bracket, the story instead focused on what came after the relationship began. Which is alright, just not what I thought I was getting when I began this book. The concept of a boyfriend bracket is clever and intriguing, and I would have loved if it had stayed around for longer.
Ultimately, this is a book for the younger members of the Young Adult genre. If I was reading less for detail and less from the place I am now, having head the experiences I have had, maybe I would have liked it more. The cute tropes and fluff will definitely appease some, but if you are looking for a book with nuance, maybe skip this one. And, just a note, there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking cute tropes and fluff. Books are meant to be whatever you need it to be, and many people I am sure loved The Boyfriend Bracket, because it’s a fun story, just not a very deep one.
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
Stella has had a hopeless crush on Will, her older brother’s best friend FOREVER, but now that Cam and Will have graduated and are going off to college, this year is her chance to really strike out on her own. Without her overprotective brother and his sidekick around to distract her, she can focus on having all the typical high school experiences that she’s always dreamed of—starting with finding a boyfriend! With the help of her best friend Franklin, she comes up with the perfect plan to have a boyfriend by Christmas: The Boyfriend Bracket.
Or it seems like the perfect plan…right up until Will starts showing up again. How is she supposed to find the perfect boyfriend when none of her dates measure up to the one boy she can never have?