Title: Note to Boy
Author: Sue Clark
Publisher: Unbound Digital
Publication date: July 23, 2021
One Sentence Summary: Eloise needs someone to write her memoirs and Bradley needs a job and thus sparks an unlikely friendship between a teen boy and a former fashion trendsetter who is still intent on getting her due.
Eloise Slaughter is a has-been in the world of fashion, though, in some circles, is still considered a legend. Reclusive, she now seeks someone to help her write her memoirs. Enter, Bradley, a teen with a rough handle on the English language and questionable motives, but also possessor of a reasonably good heart. I thought this book would be heartwarming, but it ended up feeling more like a business relationship even though it’s easy to see they’re fond of each other. In their own ways. Ultimately, Note to Boy doesn’t have the most lovable characters, but the characterizations are incredibly strong and some of the best I’ve read.
Eloise was a fashion icon, a trendsetter, back in the 1960s and 70s in London. Even though she was thwarted by a fashion rival time and again, she’s still a legend, albeit one basically in hiding after the disaster of her last show. She still thinks of herself as a queen of fashion, so has started to dictate her memoirs. If she can only find someone who will work out reliably for her.
Bradley is a seventeen-year-old boy who needs a job, if only to escape his mother and older brother, who really don’t care much for him. He sees Eloise’s ad, and ends up with the job. His intentions aren’t exactly pure, though a strange relationship is struck up between the two, one that can potentially forever change their lives.
Note to Boy is one of those books I decided to take a chance on. I’m not a big fan of general fiction, nor do I particularly enjoy friendships between one older and one much younger person. But something about Eloise and Bradly in the book description caught my eye and I thought it would be a fun, heartwarming story.
Well, I didn’t find Note to Boy to be particularly heartwarming, but I did enjoy it, in a kind of complicated way.
Note to Boy is set in London. The story is told mostly alternatively by Eloise and Bradley. They belong to two different classes, and it really comes through marvelously through their chapters. Bradley is young, rough, and not exceptionally educated while Eloise received a high education and always thought herself better than everyone else, so tweaked herself into a polished woman, if a bit dramatic. I loved how they had such different and unique voices. Even if I stopped in the middle of a chapter, I had no problems remembering who was telling the story. They were clear and consistent, though I did love how Bradley’s slowly shifted to reflected the effect Eloise had on him.
I loved everything about how Eloise and Bradley were characterized. Bradley isn’t exactly pure, but he does care about Eloise. And, seriously, if he needs a house to clean, I’ll invite him into mine, though I’ll be sure to keep a close eye on him! Eloise was clearly living in the past, but I loved how smart she was. I found her character to be fascinating. But, while I adored their characterizations, I didn’t actually like the characters. I couldn’t help but think they were horrible people. But I loved that they were horrible people? Their characterizations were so spot on and some of the best I’ve ever read (I completely forgot there was an actual author behind this book, that’s how clearly they came through), but I really, really did not like them.
My feelings about the story itself are about the same. I really enjoyed the back and forth in time and getting to see glimpses of the fashion world through Eloise’s eyes. I loved the relationship that developed between Eloise and Bradley, even if it did feel more like a business relationship than a friendship. They were using each other, but it was easy to tell there was fondness between them. Still, I wanted to slap Bradley and few times and shake Eloise a bit, but she was clearly starting to lose her marbles throughout most of the story. I really enjoyed reading Eloise’s memories, but they’re not like flashbacks where the reader is taken back in time. It really is just Eloise telling her story. Her chapters read as though she’s in the here and now telling a listener what she did and what happened to her. I really wanted the flashbacks that took me back in time, but I did really enjoy it all while actively reading this book.
Note to Boy is a really well-written story with some great characters. I loved that both Bradley and Eloise come into the story with past hurts and prejudices, but manage to work through them. I wasn’t a big fan of the ending, but the characters were working in that direction the whole time. Whether they knew it or not, they were exactly what the other needed. While I expected Note to Boy to be heartwarming, I’m actually glad it wasn’t. This was such a fun book to read, even if I didn’t like the characters.
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Thank you to Sue Clark for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.