‘Blaine For The Win’ Review: YA Novel Puts A Clever and Inclusive Spin On The Legally Blonde Plot

When the novel opens, the titular character, Blaine Bowers, has the perfect life. He’s a talented artist, has a great family, a group of loyal friends, and a boyfriend he’s crazy about. As Blaine and Joey’s one year anniversary nears, Blaine prepares himself for an invitation to go on vacation with Joey and his family to Cabo San Lucas.

Instead, he gets a very public and embarrassing break-up. Blaine is a bit of a daydreamer, and Joey feels like he needs to date someone who is a little more grounded and serious. To win Joey back, Blaine decides to run for class president. What follows is an entertaining and heartfelt exploration of individuality, self-love, and remaining true to yourself in a world that will try its best to change you.

Although Blaine For The Win’s plot is reminiscent of the film, Legally Blonde, I can assure you that the novel is unique and stands on its own.  For starters, this story is full of diverse and engaging characters from varying backgrounds and sexual orientations. The novel also tackles the mental health issues many young adults face and how they struggle to find the language to communicate their issues to the adults in their lives.

Blaine is an engaging protagonist, but not without his faults. At many points throughout the novel, readers might find it hard to root for him as he selfishly puts his own needs, and desire to win Joey back, over the needs of those around him. Although I found his mistreatment of his friends problematic for several reasons, what I did appreciate about this aspect of the character is how true it was to being a teenager. Everything  feels like the end of the world, and if you’re not careful, your own desires and interest might alienate you from the people who love and care about you. I was happy that by the end of the story, Blaine was able to see the error of his ways and manages to correct them.

The supporting cast of characters, like Trish, Aunt Starr, and Zach, were standouts to me. You’ll find yourself getting attached to these characters and wishing they were your own support system. I  loved that Zach, Blaine’s rival for Joey’s affections and his rival candidate in the election, is more than just a foil. The author takes time to add nuance and depth to a character that could solely exist as a villain.

This is a strong sophomore effort from author, Robbie Couch. His debut novel, The Sky Blues, was an excellent and full of heart. He continues the trend here of writing coming-of-age stories that put queer characters front and center. Blaine For The Win is an excellent follow-up that continues to normalize marginalized love stories that rarely get the spotlight.

If you’re looking for a young adult novel with an engaging premise, well-written characters, and an interesting spin on films like Legally Blonde and Election, this novel is for you.

 

Rating: 5/5

Blaine For The Win will be available in bookstores everywhere April 12th, 2022.

DISCLAIMER: A review copy of Blaine For The Win was provided to me by Simon and Schuster in exchange for a honest review. 

 

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