Title: Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend
Author: Sarra Manning
Transworld, 2012, Random House
Hope Delafield hasn’t always had an easy life.
She has red hair, and a temper to match, as her mother is constantly reminding her. She can’t wear heels, is terrified of heights and being a primary school teacher isn’t exactly the ob she dreamed of doing, especially when her class are stuck on the two times table.
At least Hope has Jack, and Jack is the God of boyfriends. He’s sweet, kind, funny, as a killer smile, a cool job on a fashion magazine and he’s pretty (but in a manly way). Hope knew that Jack was The One ever since their first kiss after the Youth Club Disco and thirteen years later, they’re still totally in love. Totally. And then Hope catches Jack kissing her best friend Susie…
Does true love forgive and forget?
Or does it get mad… and get even?
Hope and Jack have been together forever. Thirteen years. Half their lives. And they’ve known each other even longer – their parents are neighbours and live in each others pockets.
Hope is a stress head. She hates heights – can’t even stand on the bottom rung of a step ladder (wimp). Jack does all the home maintenance. Hope does the cooking – and Jack nags her to clean up along the way. Jack is a snooze fiend, and Hope is regularly late for work due to dragging him out of bed. She yells, screams and goes on the attack, he is the king of the silent treatment. Hope doesn’t even know how to put songs on her ipod – Jack won’t let her do it. (Really?? You’re 26. Your boyfriend won’t LET you program your own ipod? And you let him forbid you?)
Then at a fancy dinner party Hope had planned and put together, she catches Jack making out with her best friend Susie. (Seriously. At home. While Hope is there. At HER party. And oh yeah, with Susie’s boyfriend Wilson there too. Of all the stupid choices. Methinks someone wanted to get caught.) This all happens in the first 40 pages of the novel. Their parents want them together. Hope wants them together. She LOVES him. They go to couples therapy. On top of this, her mother’s theme is ‘What did you do wrong?’ ‘Brush your hair – you know it tangles’ and ‘Gosh, you’ve put on weight’. Excellent. Thanks Mum.
Her friends think she’s crazy. Her colleagues think she’s crazy. Wilson thinks she’s crazy. But she LOVES him. They’re meant to be together. Over the next 400-odd pages we watch Hope almost come to her senses a few times, before going back to the ‘But I love him, we’re meant to be together’, despite her friends, and the fact that she keeps running into Wilson, who is clearly developing a thing for her. To the point where I was nervous Hope would finally decide to drop Jack, and jump straight into long term relationship number 2 with no pause to take a breath.
It is not until page 462 that Hope finally quits begging Jack to take her back, and believing him when he says he’ll never see Susie again. Then he proposes in the car on the way home to their parents’ places for Christmas. Finally gets what she’s wanted the whole time, and THEN she realises that this isn’t actually what she wants and leaves(finally letting HIM deal with the parents who desperately want them together. With grandkids.) And paints the kitchen. Changes a lightbulb. Gets a haircut. And FINALLY gets off with Wilson.
I’ll say straight out, I was disappointed with this book (in case you missed that). I really wanted to like it – I’ve read a few of Sarra Manning’s books now and enjoyed them all – but I just couldn’t. I found this one really frustrating. I get that we were going for a different spin on ‘boy and girl happy. Boy cheats on girl. Girl leaves boy. Girl gets new hot boy. Boy number 1 learns from his mistakes but sadly too late to get girl back.’
I started out feeling sorry for Hope. But she just kept taking him back. And thinking it was going to end well. And then she got REALLY whiny.
I just really felt like we kept going around in the same circle. Didn’t massively like the ending either. Elements of the ending could have worked on their own, but all together it just felt a little too unbelievable, especially after all that Jack and Susie put Hope through.
I will stay on the Sarra Manning bandwagon – although I didn’t like this story, I still like her writing style. And I like her other books. Guess you can’t win them all.
Have you read Nine Uses? Have you read any other Sarra Manning books? What are your thoughts?