published: 28th May 2020
spoilers? not really
A laugh out loud look at first love, loss and trying to avoid the girl of your dreams.
What a stupid expression that is in the first place: To fall in love. Like you fall into a ditch or something. Maybe people need to look where they’re going.
As far as Phoebe Davies is concerned, love is to be avoided at all costs. Why would you spend your life worrying about something that turns you into a complete moron? If her best friend Polly is anything to go by, the first sniff of a relationship makes you forget about your friends (like, hello?), get completely obsessed with sex (yawn) and bang on constantly about a person who definitely isn’t as great as you think they are.
So Phoebe isn’t going to fall in love, ever.
But then she meets Emma . . .
Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann is a hilarious, life-affirming novel about all the big stuff: love, sex, death, family, heartbreak, kittens . . . and kisses that turn the whole world upside down.
Galley provided by publisher
This book was somewhat of a mixed bag. There were things I liked about it, but there were also plenty of things I didn’t like about it.
Love is for Losers is written as six months worth of diary entries from the main character as she lives with her godmother, gets through her GCSEs, and falls in love while her mother is away on a humanitarian mission.
I think it’s fair to say that far and away the biggest reason for me not liking this book was Phoebe. She’s a dislikeable character, but there’s dislikeable yet you still like them, then there’s dislikeable because they say all sorts of crap and are never pulled up on it in the narrative. Within the first 10% or so, she’s been awful about humanitarian work and a character with Downs syndrome. And yet, she’s all like “I’m not a hypocrite like the rest of you because I say exactly what I’m thinking”. Well, sometimes I really wish you wouldn’t, Phoebe. But, despite disliking her (and I know she’s only 15, but c’mon), I continued. She never really got better, but she grew on me in some perverse way. I almost liked her, up until she reminded me how awful she was by making fun of someone having a panic attack.
But she wasn’t wholly horrible, and that sort of made it more disappointing, if anything. I liked her relationship with Emma, and also the found family aspect of everyone working at the charity shop. I think, though, what the book really needed was Phoebe to be challenged (to say the least) on some of her shit, and to actually show evidence of developing from it.
Because it had some promising aspects! The relationship among the charity shop workers and how they formed a little found family, for one. Even though Phoebe pretended to hate them (we get it, you’re not a people person), the way they visibly grew on her throughout the book felt organic. And the book let her use the word lesbian, multiple times! So the groundwork was there, it was just a shame Phoebe, the misanthropic edgelord, was the way she was. (Listen, she may be 15, but I don’t take that as an excuse. You can not be a little shit at 15.)
I don’t think anybody actually really knows me. Alright, Adam Parrish.