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Not Exactly a Love Story

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“A fifteen-year-old creates an alter ego to woo his dream girl. Compulsively readable.” —The New York Times
This quirky, flirty, and smart story will appeal to fans of Frank Portman’s King Dork, John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines, and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park. It’s not exactly a love story . . . but it’s pretty close.
It’s 1977. Fifteen-year-old ...

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Not Exactly a Love Story

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“A fifteen-year-old creates an alter ego to woo his dream girl. Compulsively readable.” —The New York Times
This quirky, flirty, and smart story will appeal to fans of Frank Portman’s King Dork, John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines, and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park. It’s not exactly a love story . . . but it’s pretty close.
It’s 1977. Fifteen-year-old Vinnie is recovering from the worst case of acne his dermatologist’s ever seen. His girl moved to California without saying good-bye. And the ink on his parents’ divorce papers is barely dry when his mom announces they’re moving from Queens to Long Island. The silver lining? Moving next door to Patsy, everyone’s dream girl. Not that she’d ever notice him. But when Vinnie calls Patsy one night, it leads to a chain of anonymous midnight conversations, and the two develop a surprisingly strong connection despite the lies it’s built on. But as Vinnie gets to know Patsy in real life, it’s clear that both identities can’t survive. . . .

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
Readers who hang on past the claustrophobic initial chapters will be rewarded with a richly realized character. Vinnie's narration evolves beyond wisecracks, keeping pace with his emotional growth…As the emotional stakes rise, Vinnie's story becomes compulsively readable. The more he clings to the masks he's made, the more his vulnerability comes through. There's a bit of slapstick, a collision of identities at the high school dance. By then, his personality has been rendered in enough warm, honest detail to drive a sequence of events that, left to a lesser writer, might feel cartoonish.
—Jessica Bruder
Publishers Weekly
Fifteen-year-old Vinnie is not excited to move from Queens to Long Island with his newly remarried mother, but his attitude softens a bit after he glimpses the beautiful girl next door from his bedroom window. Unfortunately, when he calls Patsy, he loses his nerve and his voice, and Patsy pegs him as a "breather." Rather than explain himself, Vinnie impulsively plays the role of a mystery man/obscene caller, piquing Patsy's interest during the series of calls that follow. Soon, midnight phone conversations with Patsy are part of Vinnie's regular routine; the two establish an intimate relationship of sorts, speaking openly about matters they'd never discuss in public. When Patsy expresses her desire to meet in person, Vinnie, fearing rejection, is at a loss. Set in the 1970s, this offbeat love story humorously portrays the moments of vulnerability and bravado that change the course of these two teenagers' fates. Couloumbis (Lexie) steadily builds tension (the romance between Patsy and Vinnie never feels like a foregone conclusion) in a story with superb comedic repartees and a twisty-turvy plot. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Grinberg Literary Management. (Dec.)
VOYA - Suanne Roush
It is November 1977, and Vinnie Gold has moved to Long Island with his mother and new stepfather, who has been hired as a football coach and PE teacher at the local high school. It is the first time Vinnie has lived in a house, and the first time he has had a phone in his room. They are living next door to Patsy, a beautiful blonde the same age as Vinnie. She is part of the popular crowd, and Vinnie is sure she could never be interested in him, even if he could get her to notice him. He gets her phone number through an accident and decides to call, although by the time he gets the nerve, it is midnight. He wants to ask her to a movie, but what comes out, after a few false starts, qualifies as an obscene phone call. The next night he calls--again at midnight--to apologize. This begins a nightly series of phone calls during which they establish a connection. Patsy wants that connection in person and insists that they meet at the upcoming Valentine’s dance. Vinnie agrees but also makes a point to interact with her in person, which leads him to reveal the truth to her a few days later--a truth she was close to guessing. Although it is a pleasant story, it is doubtful that most teens are going to be able to relate to the story. It is obvious that the 1977 setting is used so that there are no cell phones, caller IDs, texting, or Facebook. Today’s teens have no concept of the anonymity necessary for this story to succeed. Purchase where more tween books are needed because it is doubtful this title will appeal to older teens. Ages 11 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
A late-night phone call turned bad…turns good. After his parents' quick divorce and his mother's even quicker remarriage to his gym teacher, Mr. Buonofuoco, in 1977, 15-year-old, half-Italian/half-Jewish Vinnie Gold relocates from New York City to Long Island with his mother and Mr. B. The loner teen knows that Patsy, the "foxy blonde" next door, is out of his league, but after discovering her private number, he musters the courage to call her at midnight. His nervousness and bumbling, however, leave Patsy thinking he's an obscene caller. The potential creepiness of the situation is not lost on Vinnie, and it fuels his desire to right his wrong and prove himself. So he calls back, and this time Patsy keeps listening--and even talking. With a shield of partial anonymity, their midnight repartee continues night after night, developing into an unusual romance that keeps Patsy guessing at Vinnie's identity and Vinnie watching the school's football star abuse her. In a first-person narration that ranges from humor and quirkiness to insecurity and anger, Vinnie struggles between two personas. Can he ever reconcile both selves and still keep Patsy's interest? Even if Patsy doesn't fall for Vinnie, readers will grow to love his vulnerability and sincerity. His parents' evolving relationships echo his own maturation. Not exactly a perfect story. But it comes pretty close. (Fiction. 13 & up)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2012:
“Not exactly a perfect story. But it comes pretty close.”
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—A story set on Long Island, New York, in 1977. Vinnie Gold has just turned 15, his dog dies soon thereafter, his crush moves away, and his parents announce they are getting a divorce. A good deal of this book is spent exploring with family dynamics after the breakup. Vinnie's mom ends up marrying Mr. Buonofuco, Vinnie's gym teacher. His dad, on the other hand, never wanted a divorce, but eventually begins to create a new life for himself. While Vinnie's family life is changing, so is his personal life. He moves to the suburbs with his mom and Mr. B and develops a crush on his next-door neighbor, Patsy, who, as luck would have it, is incredibly attractive and goes to his school. He accidentally acquires her unlisted phone number and decides to call her-night after night after night. At first she is angry, but as time goes by, they develop a relationship. A third of the way through the book readers may become tired of Vinnie's calls and disturbed at his stalkerish behavior. However, if they continue, they will find that he grows up and turns out to be a decent guy. This novel deals with many hard topics surrounding divorce, insecurity, and relationhips.Jesse L. Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375867835
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 12/11/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 792,321
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

AUDREY COULOUMBIS's first book for children, Getting Near to Baby, won the Newbery Honor in 2000.

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Customer Reviews

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( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Flashback to young love

    Not Exactly a Love Story
    By Audrey Couloumbis
    Random House Children’s Books
    $17.99 Hardcover
    $10.99 eBook

    Publisher’s Summary:

    It's 1977.

    Fifteen-year old Vinnie isn't having a good year. He's recovering from the worst case of galloping acne his dermatologist's ever seen. His girl moved to California without even saying good-bye. And the ink on his parent’s divorce papers is barely dry, when his mom announces that they're moving from Queens to Long Island.

    The silver lining in all this is that they move next door to Patsy—everyone's dream girl. Not that she'd ever notice him. But when Vinnie calls Patsy one night, it leads to a chain of anonymous midnight conversations. Under the cover of darkness, Vinnie becomes Vincenzo, Patsy's mystery caller, and the two share a side of themselves they would never reveal in daylight and develop a surprisingly real connection (despite the lies it's built on). As Vinnie gets to know Patsy in real life though, it becomes clear both identifies can't survive and he'll have to find a way to hang-up the phone and step into the daylight. Fraught with complications and crackling with witty dialogue, and all the angst and electricity that comes with always being just a phone wire away from the one you want, it's not exactly a love story . . . but it's pretty close.

    My Review:
    I thought this book was especially charming and cute. Told in the very real voice of 15-year-old, parents recently divorced, just moved to a new neighborhood, Vinnie, Love Story is witty, quick, and fun. Back before cell phones and computers, if a boy liked a girl, he had to steal her number and call her from the safety of his dark bedroom, anonymously. Not really, but it adds to this story.

    This is Couloumbis’ debut novel for young adults, and I must say, it is a grand success. A quick voice, plenty of smashing dialogue, a charming ending, and some surprisingly profound moments--like the one below--make up this pretty pleasing package.

    “No one tells you how things really are. Everything coming in waves, one rolling in after the other, and in case you’re thinking that doesn’t sound so bad, keep this in mind: that’s how huge rocks, boulders, become sand on the beach.” (pg 14, ebook)

    I really liked it. It’s deep enough to keep older readers interested and challenging and clean enough for your younger YA reader. I’d rate it a PG (content wise). There are a couple of mild fight scenes and some language.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Vinnie is a high school student with a face full of acne and an

    Vinnie is a high school student with a face full of acne and an extremely awkward personality that makes you sympathize with him. To make matters worse, his mom divorces his father and marries his gym teacher, and they decide to move to Long Island. There, he goes right from mourning his old relationship to crushing on Patsy, the gorgeous girl next door, whose room he can see through his window. Then, Vinnie accidentally finds Patsy's number in locker room. He decides to call her at midnight but can't bring himself to say anything. At his third call, Patsy answers acidly, and Vinnie says something rude in response. Vinnie feels badly about his racy comments to Patsy and continues to call her every night at midnight trying to apologize to her. In the process, a strange friendship is born between them.
    Vinnie's actions border on stalkerish, and yet I couldn't help wanting to support him. He's in an awkward stage of life and is like every other teenager looking for happiness in life. I like the connection that Vinnie and Patsy form during their late-night calls. Talking to each other anonymously allows them to chat freely and without fear of judgment. I’m sure Vinnie and Patsy wouldn’t have gotten to know each other so well if they just met each other in the class. They come from such different backgrounds.
    Still, I don't like how Patsy entertains a mysterious male caller every night. It's also strange that her parents never hear her on the phone. I wonder where Vinnie and Patsy's parents are because not once does any of them interrupts their child talking during such late hours or brings it up during the day. I also would have liked to see Vinnie make some regular friendships at school and do something other than listening in on Patsy's friends' conversations. It would help round out his character and add more to the story than the blooming romance between him and Patsy.
    Not Exactly a Love Story is a book about a regular guy's quest for the girl next door and, in the process, his exploration of his identity. What I love most about this story is how Vinnie is able work through his emotions about the divorce of his parents and how he understands that he loves both his parents even though they are not together anymore.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2014

    I listened to this audiobook while commuting to my job and while

    I listened to this audiobook while commuting to my job and while working. It was a cute story without any complication. Vinnie is a typical underdog who underestimates his abilities, athletic, smarts, and popularity potential. Patsy is your typical popular girl, who use to be an outcast. I could related to both these characters - despite having nothing in common with Patsy. There were times that I found Vinnie to be fake and unlikeable - I think that had something to do with the personas he was trying to keep up for Patsy, both as himself and as Vincenzo. But overall I really liked how he was written and how he developed throughout the story. I love how Patsy developed throughout the story - she turned into a real person not just a typical, stereotypical blonde popular high school girl.

    The story as a whole was cute and well written. I found the events believable. The only problem I found was that I didn't even realize that this was written in a specific time period (the 70s). Obviously it wasn't in present time because they weren't using cellphones but actual landline phones. This is nothing against the story exactly, but I was surprised to read that it was based in 1977 when starting this review (I had read the description ages ago).

    Overall, this was a nice easy read (or I guess listen for me). I actually put aside another book I was reading in order to finish this one - listening to it on my lunch instead of reading the physical book I had brought with me. I would recommend this as a summer read or if you just want something cute with an underdog story. I have a soft spot for the underdogs and despite the fake feeling I had every once and a while with Vinnie, I couldn't help but root for him.

    I guess I should mention that the voice narration was great. The narrator had a believable voice for Vinnie and he did a great job doing the voices for the rest of the characters too - including the Italian New York accent!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2013


    This only has two reviess it sucks

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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