Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys
by Kate Brian
Megan Meade has a dilemma. Her parents are moving to South Korea with the military, and she wants to stay in America to finish her last two years of high school. What is a girl to do? Move in with the McGowan family and their seven boys! Soon Megan finds that living with seven boys is not all that it is cracked up to be…will she be able to survive?
Oftentimes, on my Nook, I will scroll through book covers and titles to see which ones catch my eye as potential reads. Then, I read the publisher reviews and take a look at the number of stars fellow readers have given the books. This book received 5 stars from a large number of people on Barnes and Noble and I thought the premise was promising, so I decided to give it a try. To be blunt, I am not sure I see how this book has received so many five star ratings. But I digress, let me start at the beginning….
I always like to say something positive about a book I have read. For this book, I thought that the cover was cute, the title was clever (it alludes to the rules she comes up with for living with boys) and the premise showed a lot of promise. Megan Meade’s parents are in the military and are about to be sent to South Korea. Megan is tired of moving and is definitely NOT going to South Korea for her junior year in high school. Instead, she moves in with the McGowans and their large brood of boys. As she experiences living with the McGowans, she e-mails her friend back home and comes up with “rules” for living with all of the boys. I thought, “Ooh, this could be fun! Hi-jinks! Romance! Our main character finding out who she is!” Sadly, this book did not live up to my expectations.
One of the main issues that I could not really get past is with the character development, in that the characters were not developed. Honestly, they were stock, cookie-cutter characters – the attractive jock who dates the hot, mean girl, the bad boy motorcycle rider, the feeling artist, the brother with Asperger’s who needed “saving”, the girl who had so many boys she didn’t know what to do, etc. I just could not get invested in any of these characters because there was nothing to hold on to, nothing to cheer for, nothing to care about. I found the majority of them unlikable, and it was difficult to keep the brothers straight at the beginning. Additionally, I was really offended (and perhaps unnecessarily, I am not sure) by Megan’s treatment of the brother with Asperger’s. It made it seem like all she had to do was read a few articles on the internet about it and then suddenly she was able to make breakthrough connections with him that no one else could. This part really felt forced, which brings me to the writing.
I have never written a book and cannot imagine how difficult it is to develop an idea, story arc, setting, etc. and have it be cohesive and work together well. Therefore, I salute all book writers. However, in my opinion, this book would have benefited from some further revision before being published. The dialogue seemed unnatural and the writing was pedestrian. The plot seemed like it came right from one of those after-school specials in which Johnny learns a special lesson or something like that – in a word, predictable. The characters, as mentioned previously, lacked any sort of depth or nuance.
There was no real tension in the story, and from the start, you can guess the brother that Megan is going to end up with. However, she ends up with him after some silly, contrived ending in which she was going to fly to South Korea but the brothers tell her to come back. So she leaves the airport and goes back with the McGowan family to live happily ever after. To be honest, at that point I was hoping her parents had travel insurance because that was just ludicrous to me.
So, overall, this book just really did not live up to my expectations, and to say it was disappointing would be putting it mildly. From looking on Amazon, Good Reads and Barnes and Noble, there are lots of people who DID like this book so feel free to check those places out for an alternate perspective. I would give another one of Kate Brian’s books a try because it is possible that this book just didn’t resonate with me.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Recommendation: 14 and up