Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: A Field Guide for Heartbreakers by Kristin Tracy


When best friends Dessy and Veronica arrive in Prague for a prestigious writing workshop, their priorities diverge. Dessy, fragile from a recent breakup, has come to mend her broken heart by honing her craft. Veronica has just dumped her boyfriend and plans to blow off the workshop. She’d rather master a different subject—boys. Veronica gets right to work on her “man-wall”— one paper cutout for every hot-dude she meets— and embarks on her mission to cover a wall of their dorm by summer’s end. At times, Dessy thinks her friend might be a genius. At others, Veronica seems more like an agent of chaos. As if their love lives weren’t complicated enough, soon a homicidal suitemate is bent on killing Veronica and Dessy, and both girls are hiding secrets that could wreck their friendship. Well, no one ever said breaking hearts was a simple craft....


Filled with outrageous, hilarious situations, sprightly and quirky characters, and a new setting, Field Guide for Heartbreakers is a cute, lively read. Two invigorating and vastly different main characters help add to the hilarity and endearment of this book. Stylistic writing and talented mindset help tie everything together.

Dessy is practiced and logical, not one to immediately throw caution to the wind. Still hung up on her ex and fault focused, she is a mix of damaged and naïve. She is a well designed character, her quirks, attributes and flaws coming across strongly. She complements Veronica and though she finds herself in some awkward and obnoxious situations on account of her friend, she is, in the end, a great friend. She starts out strongly developed but grows further and the way Tracy plays this out adds spark into the book. Both through her interactions with Veronica and her classmates in Prague as well as her analysis of both her own writing and others in her class help brings things together.

Veronica is rambunctious, boy crazy, blunt and apt to do stupid things. She is overdramatic and exaggerates yet through Dessy’s eyes, the reader can understand the affection and appreciation. As with Dessy, Veronica starts out with much of her personality exposed but she grows and changes as the book progresses. Despite this, she still holds many of the same quirks including her penchant for using euphemisms and sayings wrong. The banter between her and Dessy is engaging and amusing, cropping up at unexpected moments.

The "hot dudes" the girls meet and go after make up a large part of the characters, coming in a variety of personalities. Some are in their same program- college guys- while others are locals or visiting the area. The way they handle the situations is vastly different and even when things heat up and turn dramatic, the way they care for each other remains the same.

The plot is a tangle of love and betrayal and the addition of Corky, their roommate bent on tormenting and maybe killing them, adds another level. As things heat up, the reader is forced to choose which friend their feelings most relate to. Tracy handles this area beautifully, not forcing the reader to side with Dessy simply because it’s in her perspective. Dessy’s emotions come through the pages to the reader but so do Veronica’s. Their interactions with males is comical but the desire for love and attention is palpable. Much of their driving forces are understandable, lurking even in the simplest of places.

Rapt with Prague culture and scenery, the setting alone is a fantastic element of the story. The descriptions are beautiful and the reader can get a sense of being there with each place the girls visit. In character narrative, spunk and manner of speaking help bring this book to life as well, from the “hot dudes” to the many other adjunct words and phrases thrown in. Tracy ’s writing style is a bold one, exceeding the usual boundaries and spurring the life into her characters.

A fantastic take on a love based premise, a unique setting and colorful characters meld together to make Field Guide for Heartbreakers a fantastic, fun read. The plot is paced steadily with plenty of comedy to break up the emotion and keep the reader from growing bored. The writing class adds another element as its writing within a book, rather than art or photography that seems to crop up often in novels. Tracy tests her limits and handles it beautifully in execution.

Source: ARC received free of charge in from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423127188
ISBN-13: 978-1423127185

Author's Website

What Others Are Saying:
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  1. I didn't even pay that much attention to this book until you reviewed it. It sounds amazing :D

    But I'm wondering: does the cover have any relation to the story? That ice cream cone looks yummy...

  2. lol, i want some Ice cream!
    This book sounds fun, i'll check it out!

  3. This sounds promising, I'm very excited for it's release.

  4. I really enjoyed this one too and I loved that it was set in Prague. I looked up the pictures of the places the girls visited and it made me decide that a trip to Prague is in my future.

    Fantastic and well written review!