BLOG REVIEW: Isn't She Lovely by Lauren Layne

21y.o. college student dresses normally for a film-school student, with her Goth clothes, dark make-up, and old army boots. 
Her new film-class partner Hero stands out in the crowd with his preppy, clean-cut look and frat-boy background and she tells him so.
He is equally blunt with how strange he thinks she looks. But their film-class assignment morphs into a real-life Pygmalion situation, where heroine must act convincingly as Hero's pretend girlfriend to his parent's upper-crust social function in exchange for Hero providing her with needed room and board for the summer.  
Their time together makes their issues with their own families and identity more evident. It not only heightens their similar straits but their growing mutual attraction as well.
But is their strong attraction enough to sustain the seemingly polar opposite worlds they live in? How far is heroine willing to continue her proper facade to keep Hero?
Will Hero have to ultimately choose between heroine and his social life?

A well-rounded book with characters of depth and humor.  Hero and heroine’s rapport and thoughts about each other were hilarious (i.e., she was “cranky little midget” and he was a “life-sized Ken Doll”). They match the stereotypes the other had about them with a bit of wiggle room to make it slightly askew.  They were comfortable with who they were and their social life. Yet they both experienced some current life changes that made them do something a bit different, in their case, taking a summer film class in NYU. Their shared class plus their accidental hallway bump started a whole trajectory that pushed their very-different lives together in a jumbled, intertwined mess. Their attraction simmered while they were figuring out their class assignment, their various family and ex issues, and their oddball relationship.  I liked that Hero and heroine were both level-headed enough not to rush into anything just because they had strong chemistry. They had so much going on in their individual lives and against their romance they were duly cautious. But, as they opened up to each other as they realize how much they did get each other, their emotional connection became an unstoppable force.  It became even more crucial for them to resolve their own issues before they had a good chance together.

I liked the character development that took place. Hero had to man up and make a choice about was more important to him: getting social approval or being happy. With heroine, it was letting go of her losses and embracing the good she had in her life. Their attraction to each other started the ball rolling on their identity changes.  They were polar opposites yet were attracted to each other and it made them search within themselves what that attraction was about. Their attraction challenged their view of themselves and people they were with. It particularly wasn’t easy for Hero who was the more social of the two. He enjoyed being with heroine yet he was embarrassed to be seen with her. Their real-life Pygmalion project enabled him to bring her to his social group without the risk of social embarrassment.  But, just like the Pygmalion story, heroine was still ultimately the Goth girl with the dark clothes and dark make-up.  He had to choose to lose her or accept her for who she was.  For heroine, the experience made her realize that she had changed. She liked the pretty dresses and lighter make-up and sociability. Yet she still liked her army boots and dark eyeliner. I liked how she combined the old with the new and came up with something different yet comfortable with the new person she became. I liked how Hero challenged her to stop hiding her fears and losses with her poker-face and Goth appearance. I’m glad that, when she took the risk to find out the truth about her past, it wasn’t as bad as she thought.

    --------------SPOILERS: Don't read if you don't want to know the book's details--------------

Her high-school boyfriend was stupid and irresponsible to drug her with a roofie on her drink the night her mom died of cancer. But he didn’t have sex with her after all. She passed out on his bed, naked but unknowingly still a virgin. And when she became conscious, it was to get the phone call that her mom just died. She didn’t bother confronting her boyfriend then or after. She wanted to forget that part of that night. Her ex-boyfriend did try to contact her numerous times over the years to explain what happened but she ignored them, believing the worst and already hiding herself with her deadened Goth look and heavily made-up poker face.

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She challenged him also. To take the risk and deal with his issues with his mom and to go beyond status quo. They were both good for each other. They challenged each other to go beyond being comfortable and safe in their own self-made cocoons. As they challenged each other to take risks, they provided each other with emotional safety and encouragement that comes from supporting and loving each other. Their HEA(happy ever after) looks pretty good wit h the way they balanced their differences with their unconditional love and support for each other .

I recommend this book.

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