The Book of Luke
Title: The Book of Luke
Author: Jenny O’Connell
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Division/MTV Books
Number of Pages: 304
Advertised Age Level: Young Adult
Age and Grade of Main Character(s): 17 yrs./Senior
Language: mild profanity, used sparingly
Sex: Kissing. Allusions to intimate physical contact. No actual descriptions of sex but main character does lose her virginity.
Drug/Alcohol Use: none by main characters, discussions about smoking pot
Social Issues: loss of virginity, teen sex, parental separation, mean girl behaviour
Suggested Movie Grade: PG-13
Premise: “Nice Girl” Emily Abbott has really gotten handed a raw deal. Half-way through her senior year in high school, her parents decide to move the family from Chicago back to Boston. She’s just received a letter from her first choice college, Brown, telling her she’s been deferred. And on the morning that the family is scheduled to leave, her first real boyfriend, Sean, breaks up with her. Too add insult to injury, her father announces at the airport that, in fact, he’s not moving with the rest of the family but rather staying behind in Chicago, ostensibly to tie up some loose ends. Code for separation.
But when Emily arrives back at her old school, she finds that not much has changed. Her old best friends, Lucy and Josie, are there to welcome her back into the fold. And come to find out, they’ve been experiencing their fair share of boy troubles as well. In fact, Josie was just dumped – via e-mail – by hottest guy on campus, Luke Preston.
Fueled by their frustrations, the girls decide to write a guide-book for guys, a how-to-manual describing all the things boys do that drive girls crazy and how they can change for the better. Once this manual is done, the girls plan to put it in the senior class’s time capsule so future generations can benefit from their knowledge. The girls decide that Emily will test their theories on Luke as a form of revenge.
However, before long Emily finds that Luke isn’t such a bad guy after all, and she’s torn between her loyalty to her friends and her growing feelings for Luke.
Comments: Emily and Luke engage in a physical relationship as the story progresses, moving from kisses to intimate physical contact and eventually actual sex. None of it is described explicitly but there is no vagueness at all. Luke uses their sexual relationship as a way to hurt Emily after they have a falling out.
While none of the characters engage in drug use, there are several remarks made about a former student who smoked pot frequently.
Emily’s parents are separated through much of the book, and Emily is very resentful of her father throughout, refusing to speak to him on the phone. The question of a possible divorce is always present.
Emily and her friends engage in some questionable behaviour when they decide that Emily should pretend to have feelings for Luke in order to gain his trust after which time Emily will dump him in order to humiliate him. This is supposed to be in retaliation for the way Luke treated Emily’s friend, Josie. At the end of the story, Emily’s friends turn against her when they believe she has betrayed them and intentionally humiliate her publicly.
Age Appropriateness: ages 14 and up