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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at OSU chapter.



Lynn Painter’s New York Times bestseller “Better Than the Movies” is a classic high school rom-com where the goody two-shoes girl falls for the bad boy neighbor. A quintessential romance book, “Better Than the Movies” kept me up until 2 a.m. to finish binge-reading it in one sitting.

This love story follows Liz Buxbaum, a hopeless romantic with a flair for melodrama. After her childhood crush, Michael, returns to their hometown, Liz is determined to capture his attention.

The only way in? Wes Bennett. Portrayed as a quirky senior on the search for the romance of the ages (as portrayed in movies like “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and “Notting Hill”), Wes is the perfect man to fake-date until she wins Michael’s heart. Little did we know, however, that Wes was her hidden dream boy all along.

Similar to all book reviews, I have my likes and dislikes when it comes to “Better Than the Movies.” Following a basic enemies-to-lovers plotline, it feels like a repeat of the old love stories we’re already familiar with, but who can resist a quick read and a love interest that makes your heart swoon?


Starting each chapter with a quote from popular rom-com movies, it’s hard not to immediately fall in love with the series. As a rom-com fanatic, I resonated with Liz’s obsession — everyone dreams of a significant other whose comedic timing and spontaneous thoughtful gestures match those of Matthew McConaughey’s character Ben in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” 

The book begins with a classic trope in which the girl falls for the charming youth, while the mischievous childhood friend admires her from afar. Wes is an easy character to love, and his small gestures of kindness would leave anyone swooning: sitting on the patio steps to listen to Liz play the piano, giving her his clothes when hers were ruined and inviting her over for late-night talks, s’mores and nothing more.

It might be easy to claim that these gestures should be the standard, but they’re not so common for the average teenage boy. I won’t claim the writing to be mindblowing or the plotline to be unique, but it was extremely difficult to not binge-read in one sitting while wishing I had a Wes in my own high school experience.

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Erika Doss/Prime Video

Painter was careful not to stretch Liz’s peculiarity too far, as is the case with many other rom-coms. Her childhood memories of watching romance movies with her recently deceased mother fueled her desire for a romance that swept her off her feet. This chimeral romantic idealism is hardly realistic, but a girl can dream. I won’t claim it didn’t also influence my standards and imaginative paragons.

The banter, the “Wes and Liz playlist” and all the chapters that began with a “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” quote were ultimately my favorite parts. 

Overall, I wouldn’t say this book is in any way an idiosyncratic novel known for its collection of applaudable qualities, but I also would not say it wasn’t a page-turner that left me encapsulated with the main love-interest.


My primary criticism of this book is its lack of distinctiveness from other rom-com novels. At the same time, though, I’m not one to turn down a classic romance trope because it’s a little repetitive.

As an adult, I struggled to connect with a teenage romance, but the age difference didn’t stop me from reminiscing on the high school heartthrobs who were once the center of the world… until rigorous college work and independence hit.

The dialogue was sometimes baseline and awkward, but one can assume not all high schoolers have the vocabulary of a young Rory Gilmore. 

Gilmore Girls walking through Fall Festival
Warner Bros. Television

My final complaint is about Liz. While relatable to any college student thinking back on their awkward and hormonal high school experiences, she was too boy-obsessed at times, lacked empathy towards others when things didn’t go her way and was ultimately a dreadful person to her best friend and stepmother.  

She came to understand, albeit belatedly, that mistakes bear consequences, and that altering one’s personality or appearance merely to catch a boy’s eye means he isn’t the one for you. It took her a little too long to realize that the boy next door was hers from day one.


Liz, Page 220

“Life pressed forward with a burning velocity that left all of the beautifully-pressed details quickly forgotten.”

Liz’s dad, page 328

“My dad put his arm around Helena and propped his feet on the coffee table. ‘Did you ever know, Liz, that Wes used to sit on the back porch and listen to you practice the piano? We pretended not to see him, but he was always there.’”

Wes, page 340

“She’s not you.”


“She. Isn’t. You.”

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/ Unsplash
Wes, page 343

“Enemies-to-lovers — it’s our trope, Buxbaum.”

Liz, page 348

“I started walking towards him, but when I glanced back at my mom’s headstone, I almost tripped. Because a cardinal had landed on the chokecherry branch that hung down beside it. He was bright red and beautiful, just sitting on the branch and looking in my direction.”

Chapter 14, A chapter beginning with a “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” quote

“I am not running away.”


Brooke’s Book Rating: ★★★★☆

Brooke is a second-year at Ohio State studying journalism and criminology. She is a reporter for The Lantern, a writer for Her Campus, and journalist for Parent and Family Relations where she writes Department Debriefs, a project widely acknowledged by other universities and Ohio State offices. Her hobbies include reading, hiking, rewatching "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" until all her tears are dried and smelling fall candles while wishing it was October.