Love Bomb is the second in the Ladybird series by Jenny McLachlan (I reviewed the first, Flirty Dancing, here), and this one focuses on Betty Plum, who has fallen head over heels in love for the first time and doesn’t know what to do about it. It’s very obvious, of course, to practically anyone, that Toby, the object of Betty’s affections, is the Wrong Boy. We know this because he follows all the Gorgeous But Wrong Boy tropes: he is unwilling to have any conversation about whether they are boyfriend/girlfriend, he is all over her one minute and totally uninterested the next, and he invites Betty to sing in his band and then makes her change the way she sings.
AWOOGA AWOOGA ALARM ALARM. But we all know that girls fall for The Wrong Boy all the time, and who knows? Sometimes it even turns out all right for them. Maybe Toby can change…?
This would be just another teen romance wrong-boy-right-boy dilemma, EXCEPT – and this is a really important point – that Betty is being guided by letters from her dead mother. Not in a creepy way, in a written-before-she-died way, when Betty’s mum knew she was dying, and so she wanted to pass on advice that she would have given Betty if she’d lived to see her reach her teens. And THIS aspect is what kept me reading to the end and – yes, all right, I admit it – actually made me well up more than once. Because ouch. And I’m a mum, and if I knew I wouldn’t live to see my daughters grow up, I would be beside myself with grief. And then I’d probably want to write something for them too, to help them through the agonising times of first love, getting your heart broken and how on earth you do kissing.
So Love Bomb turns out to have an extra emotional punch that lifts it above the norm, and I think teens will love it. I kind of don’t adore the cover, but it’s sort of Geek Girl-ish, so maybe teens will pick it up because of that. I hope so.