The Perfect Comeback of Caroline JacobsThe Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks
Published by St. Martin’s Press
Review copy provided by the publisher via SheReads

From the publisher:

Caroline Jacobs is a wimp, someone who specializes in the suffering of tiny indignities in silence. And the big ones, too. But when the twinset wearing president of the local Parent Teacher Organization steps out of line one too many times, Caroline musters the courage to assert herself. With a four-letter word, no less.

Caroline’s outburst has awakened something in her. Not just gumption, but a realization that the roots of her tirade can be traced back to something that happened to her as a teenager, when her best friend very publicly betrayed her. So, with a little bit of bravery, Caroline decides to go back to her home town and tell off her childhood friend. She busts her daughter out of school, and the two set off to deliver the perfect comeback . . . some twenty-five years later. But nothing goes as planned. Long buried secrets rise to the surface, and Caroline finds she has to face much more than one old, bad best friend.

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs is an enchanting novel about the ways in which our childhood experiences reverberate through our lives. It’s the story of a woman looking to fix her life through an act of bravery, and of a mother and daughter learning to understand one another. Deceptively simple and highly engaging, this latest novel by Matthew Dicks is perfect for those of us who were last to be picked at sports, and for everyone who is thrilled not to be in high school any more.

When I learned that Matthew Dicks, author of the much-beloved Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, had a new novel out, I knew I had to read it. There were a lot of things I enjoyed about The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, and I feel that Dicks has a signature style of writing that I appreciate quite a bit, a kind of ease with his dialogue and tenderness with his characters that works for me.

Caroline isn’t the kind of character that readers will love right away. I felt sort of sorry for her, but it took me a bit to actually start to like her. A big part of me just didn’t understand her lack of ability to stand up for herself in any situation in her life, nor did I really understand how she could let one incident that happened in her childhood have such a dramatically negative impact on her, for years to come. It became something that she identified as a critical part of her personality, when in reality, she could have just let the whole thing dissolve in her mind. But she couldn’t let it go, and I had a hard time feeling empathy for that.

However, what makes Dicks such a great author is that he got me to come around to Caroline’s character. He got me to grow to really like her, to root for her, to want her to get the opportunity she so craved to right the wrongs of the past and just get on with her life. By the time the book ends, I not only liked Caroline but deeply cared about her and closed the book feeling like I truly had come to understand her personality.

The most critical part of the novel, for me, was the relationship between Caroline and her daughter, Polly. The two are complete opposite ends of the spectrum personality-wise and have an incredibly strained and difficult relationship. They just don’t get each other, which is something that’s extremely frustrating, disappointing, and heartbreaking to Caroline. When they take this trip together, they have some genuine, authentic conversations and get to know one another on an entirely new level. I loved reading as their relationship progressed from that of two people who were practically strangers to one of mutual respect, love, and on some level, friendship.

Although this novel is slim I felt that Matthew Dicks did a lot within its pages. His characters really grew on me, and I was super happy with how the book ended. The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs is sweet, fun, funny, and kept me on my toes. I really liked it and highly recommend the novel!