The Girl Who Invented Romance

The Girl Who Invented Romance

4.1 9
by Caroline B. Cooney

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From the author of The Face on the Milk Carton comes a novel about romance and love. Sometimes there is heartbreak, but there can also be happily ever after. Teen girls will follow the complexities of dating, and the difference between falling in love, being in love, and really loving someone, portrayed in this inventive novel.

When 16-year-old Kelly


From the author of The Face on the Milk Carton comes a novel about romance and love. Sometimes there is heartbreak, but there can also be happily ever after. Teen girls will follow the complexities of dating, and the difference between falling in love, being in love, and really loving someone, portrayed in this inventive novel.

When 16-year-old Kelly Williams’s best friend, Faith, declares that she will stop playing games and find a real romance, Kelly watches from the sidelines and takes note. She sees Faith, as well as other friends, her brother, and even her parents attempt to play the game of love in their own unique ways. Kelly decides to create an actual game—one that captures the way people behave—and in the process it teaches them a thing or two about what can be considered winning when it comes to matters of the heart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cooney, in such books as Among Friends and Saturday Night, has explored the many faces of love several times. Here she rolls all her expertise into one book, with a thoughtful heroine who needs to know how she stacks up in the game of love. Kelly actually invents a board game called ``Romance,'' at first for fun and then for a classroom assignment. The game is a success and so is Kelly's love lifeshe gets Will, who was targeted early in the book as the boy to watch. The rest comprises one philosophical question after another: Can there be true love between people who seem more concerned with exchanging frivolous gifts? How can anything on earth be as unfair as unrequited love? What does a girl do about the truly self-centered people among her friends? (Grin and bear them.) This is not new territory to any fan of the romance novel, but Cooney writes with such clarity of her characters' entanglements that she brings fresh perspective to the game. Ages 10-up. (April)
Children's Literature
Kelly Williams knows everything there is to know about romance. She reads all the articles in the teen magazines. She watches the relationships around her, and recognizes what works and what doesn't. Yet, when she only scores a 47% on the latest intimacy quiz in her teen magazine, Kelly knows she's in trouble. Her best friend Faith tells her to stop pretending and find real romance, but Kelly doesn't know where to start. How can she find romance when she's never had a boyfriend, never even had a date? Kelly decides the only way she can play at romance is to design her own board game. And that's exactly what she does. First it's for fun, but eventually it becomes a project for her high school sociology class. The rules for Kelly's game change as she watches the romantic relationships around her change. Likewise, her understanding of the difference between love and romance grows, and Kelly finds the right boy for her has been there all along; she just didn't know where to look. This is a very simple teen romance story, yet it is told in an engaging way and is a fun read. It should be a hit with teen girls. Included in the back of the book are the game board, game pieces, and rules so readers can play "The Romance Game" themselves. 2005 (orig. 1988), Delacorte Press/Random House, Ages 12 to 16.
—Pat Trattles
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9 Cooney again takes a classroom assignment as a premise for a light tale of romance. This time the class is sociology and the assignment is to develop a project on a social issue. Kelly chooses romance, a subject that she is trying to define in her life as well as for her board game. She watches her parents' relationship hit a rocky spot; her brother get discarded by a narcissistic class beauty; and her overweight friend moon over a boy who doesn't return the interest. As she watches the rules of love keep changing, so, too, does her game begin to become more realistic: ``You work at a car wash together'' replaces ``He has his own jet and takes you to Dallas.'' A boy named Will begins to pay attention to her, and Kelly has a chance at a real romance. The story is dotted with several moralistic statements such as ``love is comfort,'' and ``love is an emotion, not objects,'' and the pat ending is as unrealistic as the board game's ``Happily Ever After.'' Yet the progression of Kelly's definition of romance will give young readers some thoughtful entertainment, and the book should be a hit. Judie Porter, Media Services Center, Portsmouth School Department, R.I.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

I was filling out a magazine quiz to see if my marriage was stable.

"You're sixteen, Kelly," said my best friend. "You don't have a boyfriend, let alone an unstable marriage."

"That just makes it more challenging. I have to dream up a husband, work my way through five years of marriage, and analyze our relationship."

We sprawled on the blue denim bedspread in my room while I finished the quiz. "I got a seventy-three, Faith," I told her.

"What does seventy-three mean?"

I flipped pages. "It means my husband and I are not yet verging on divorce, but we should be aware that we have serious marital difficulties that are going to pose major problems if we don't face them right


I dropped the magazine on the floor and lowered my face right into the bedspread. I've been trying to destroy this denim since the day I bought it, so I can have something fragile and pretty instead. But nothing can damage a denim coverlet. Not dirty shoes, spilled perfume, pizza topping or aerobic exercises.

"It makes me sad," said Faith. "You haven't even met this guy yet, and already your marriage is in trouble."

The magazine had fallen open to a home-decorating page. Here was a bedroom for dreams: open and airy, in soft pale colors, no junk around (like my hair dryer, books, makeup, souvenirs, sweaters that don't fit, sweaters that do fit, homework, new laptop, old broken laptop to which I am irrationally attached). The magazine model was also soft and pale, but you knew that lined up outside her door were dozens of men yearning for her. She just had that confident look.

"That confident look," said Faith, "is because she's getting paid so much. She probably doesn't have a date tonight either, Kelly."

"We should have gone to the basketball game," I said. "Then at least we'd be having fun."

"We were at basketball games Tuesday and Thursday," she said. "How many times a week can a girl watch Will, Scott, Mario, Angie and Jeep?"

I looked at her.

"You're right," she admitted instantly. "A girl could admire those guys every night of the week."

I rolled over. My cheek had a trench line from being pressed against a seam in the denim. If we went to the basketball game now, I'd have to wear a mask. "You know what let's do?" I said, struck by a brilliant idea. "Let's invent a romance game."

"I'm sick of games. I want a real romance."

"Maybe one will come out of this. Three of the five starters on our basketball team are in sociology class with us, right?"


"And sociology is a totally boring forty-five-minute stretch of time five days a week. Right?"


"So let's turn the classroom into a game room. Let's make up rules and play for boys."

"Oh, Kelly," said Faith, really annoyed with me. "I'm not like Megan or Honey. I can't glance a boy's way and have him get all excited and flirty. What do you mean, 'play for boys'? I've been going in and out of crushes since I was twelve and what do I have to show for it? Not a single date. I've read every romance book there is, and every article in every magazine from Seventeen to Cosmo, and what do I have junior year? Every weekend free. Don't let's talk about playing for boys. I can't do it, I don't know how, I've given up. Tomorrow I plan to hurl myself down the cellar stairs anyway."

This was Faith's biggest threat. Her house happens to be a ranch built on a slab. But hey, it sounds impressive.

"Who's your crush on this week?" I said. Faith is always in the grip of a crush. The crush seizes her, rules her life and guides her activities. The worst of it is, the boy never notices. I take that back. Once, in ninth grade, the boy noticed. He fled so thoroughly, she never saw him again to keep the crush alive.

"Angie," Faith said dreamily.

That was definitely a dream. Angie--actually Angelo Angelotti--is the beloved star of the Cummington basketball team. All five of our starters are stars, but it's hard to get excited about, say, the stardom of Will, who is very tall, very bony and so conceited I think he may have spoken to six people in the last year, all of whom were teammates or the coach. It's also hard to get excited about the stardom of Scott, who is personality-free and has the IQ of a cold day in January.

That leaves you with Angie, who has such a terrific time playing basketball that you can't keep your eyes off him (you wouldn't keep your eyes off him anyway, because he's so totally cute), and with Jeep--actually George Peters, initials G.P., leads to Jeep--who is centerfold material. Handsome like a soap opera star, with strong memorable features, thick windblown dark hair and soft sad dark eyes.

I forgot Mario.

Everybody forgets Mario. I'm sure nobody ever has a crush on him. He scores almost as often as Will, but while Will is very tall, so you can distinguish him from the other players, Mario is just sort of there. This is probably the last time I'll need to mention Mario.

If Faith had a crush on Angie, she was standing in line with a lot of other girls, and Angie has never been known to date a girl twice.

"There are eleven boys in sociology class," I said to Faith, "of whom three are basketball stars, right? Will, Jeep and Angie. Right?"

"Right. And two of the other boys are Stephen and Alan, who both have extremely steady girlfriends. And two are Avery and Kenny, who are both extremely total losers. And--"

"Be quiet. I'm planning the game. Don't interrupt."

Faith rolled her eyes. She got off the bed, wandered around my room and landed in front of my fingernail polish collection. Last Christmas my two grandmothers, my aunt and the neighbor I babysit for all gave me enormous gift sets of nail polish. I could go into retail right off my dresser. "Can I try the silver decals and the Roseblush Frost?" said Faith.

"You may have the silver decals and the Roseblush Frost. Here's how our game will go, Faith. I've worked it out in my mind. We'll walk into sociology class on Monday."

"I'm with you. We're walking into sociology."

"And there are eleven boys in the room."

"If you count Chuckie, who in my opinion does not qualify as human, never mind being the right gender."

"I am counting Chuckie. This is a game of chance. You take risks."

"I hate chance. I like skill," said Faith.

"If we had any skill, we'd be off somewhere tonight with the boys of our choice."

"Good point." Faith stroked Roseblush Frost onto her left-hand fingernails with precision. Faith's hands never quiver. Mine do, so my nails have a sticky, confused look. When even your fingernails are confused, you know you're in trouble. "Okay," I said. "We each have to select a boy to work on. The selections will be by chance."

Faith shuddered. "If chance gives me Chuckie, or Avery, or Kenny, I'm leaving town."

"Maybe you'll get Angie, though."

Faith started to tell me about how wonderful Angie was, but I knew that as well as she did, so it was a boring conversation. If she went and had a crush on, say, Kenny, who belongs on zoo-cage-cleanup detail, it would be interesting.

Sickening. Humiliating. But interesting.

Meet the Author

Caroline B. Cooney is the author of Family Reunion; Goddess of Yesterday (an ALA Notable Children's Book); The Ransom of Mercy Carter; Tune in Anytime; Burning Up; The Face on the Milk Carton (an IRA-CBC Children's Choice Book) and its companions, Whatever Happened to Janie? and The Voice on the Radio (each of them an ALA Best Book for Young Adults), as well as What Janie Found; What Child Is This? (an ALA Best Book for Young Adults); Driver's Ed (an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and a Booklist Editors' Choice); Among Friends; Twenty Pageants Later; and the Time Travel Quartet. She lives in Westbrook, CT.

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The Girl Who Invented Romance 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
rea333 More than 1 year ago
I loved the book. It keept me wanting to read more. I think this book is not for children and more for teens and young adults.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was GREAT! It's for everyone who loves love, and romance. But it's also for those who don't have much faith in love too. It's what teenagers go through everyday and always wonder about, is there love for me!? AWESOME! You totally MUST read!
SutieBlackNinja More than 1 year ago
I read this awhile back and I still remember it, you have to love going to the school library when class gets boring! Takes awhile to get good, but still worth a read. Check it out before you buy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so cute and so realistic. Its basically what all girls and even guys go through, confusion about romance and love, and also just longing for someone to love you. I loved it, I could hardly put it down, i recommend all teen girls to read this!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, but it ended way too soon. I thought that the ending was terrible and I hated how Wendy became nice int the end. I wanted to know more about what happended with Will and Kelly. The book would've been SO much better if it were longer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book on a whim because I had a ton of gift cards from my birthday. I liked the fact that the book included the game and I thought that the idea was a good one. This isn't my favorite book of all time but I didn't hate it either. When reading it I thought that there seemed to be something missing. The romance in the story was relatively short lived. I would recommend checking the book out but not buying it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very good. I found it realistic and very enteraing. It was a very good story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is fun. It even comees with the game.