cover image The Boy Is Back

The Boy Is Back

Meg Cabot. Morrow, $15.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-237877-4

Bestseller Cabot’s novel, told entirely through documents such as emails and transcripts, concerns smalltown Indiana woman Becky Flowers, whose ex-boyfriend Reed Stewart returns to Bloomville after 10 years away as a famous pro golfer. Reed’s parents find themselves making headlines after news of their attempt to pay for a meal with a postage stamp. While Reed’s sister-in-law Carly insists that his parents are senile hoarders, Reed and his brother, Marshall, argue that they’re merely eccentric. Reed’s unpleasant and litigious sister, Trimble, appears to have sinister motives for enabling their parents’ issues, but almost everyone else agrees that they need to pare down and move to warmer climes. Cabot’s plot is driven by convenient coincidence: Becky happens to be a specialist in helping elderly people move. She and Reed still clearly have the hots for each other, and the presence of Becky’s current boyfriend, Graham, is essentially inconsequential. Another old chestnut, the inability for the would-be lovers to communicate their true feelings for one another, is also thrown into the mix and drags out the story. Cabot’s method of storytelling, though clever, runs into problems when it turns clunkily to inevitable exposition. The author does a good job of portraying the sixth-grade mean-girl mentality of living in the town where you grew up; the characters are almost 30 but still talk about high school like it was yesterday. (Oct.)