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The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs Summary and Reviews

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs

by Matthew Dicks

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks X
The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2015
    240 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

Caroline Jacobs has lost herself. She's a wife, mother (to a tattooed teenage daughter she avoids), Sears Portrait Studio photographer, and wimp. Asserting herself, taking the reins, or facing life head-on are not in her repertoire. So when Caroline suddenly cracks and screams "Fuck you!" at the PTA president, she is shocked. So is her husband. So is the PTA president. So is everyone.

But Caroline soon realizes the true cause of her outburst can be traced back to something that happened to her as a teenager, a scarring betrayal by her best friend Emily. This act changed Caroline's life forever. So, with a little bit of bravery flowing through her veins, Caroline decides to go back to her home town and confront Emily. She busts her daughter Polly out of school, and the two set off to deliver the perfect comeback, which is twenty-five years in the making. But nothing goes as planned. Long buried secrets begin to rise to the surface, and Caroline will have to face much more than one old, bad best friend.

A heartwarming story told with Matthew Dicks' signature wit, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs is a deceptively simple novel about the ways in which our childhood experiences reverberate through our lives, and the bravery of one woman trying to change her life and finds true understanding of her daughter, and herself, along the way.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Heartwarming and often darkly humorous, this road trip for vengeance fairly cries out for filming." - Kirkus

"Dicks's fourth novel (after Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend) is for anyone who has wished they'd stood up for themselves or delivered that perfect comeback at just the right time." - Library Journal

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Reader Reviews

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Beth P. (Rensselaer, NY)

Perfect Comeback for a Review!
When I asked to review "The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs", I was a little apprehensive. The last book I requested just didn't work for me and I didn't end up reading it. I need not have worried. This book got my attention from the first page on, and I hated for it to end. I adored the characters, and easily identified with Caroline. How many of us hold on to our worst memories from high school, even letting them shape who we are to become? And how many of us would love the opportunity to confront that high school nemesis, to let them know how they bullied us and made us feel less than who we are?

Well, Caroline Jacobs, a quiet, almost broken woman steps out of her comfort zone, and in that moment the perfect comeback is born. The book also explores the relationship between mother and teenage daughter, finally finding a common goal when they set out to right a twenty-five year old wrong. The book is quirky, fast paced, and just delightful, especially for those of us who didn't quite fit in during our high school years. A great read!

Rosanne S. (Franklin Square, NY)

A moving comeback
The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks delivers a strong message - bullies never win. Written for the modern reader, the author paints an interesting picture of how powerful words can be.

Caroline Jacobs has been tortured by an argument she had with her "best" friend in high school. The day that Emile gave away Caroline's seat at their table in the cafeteria was the day that came to define Caroline.

At one point, Polly, Caroline's daughter who attends high school, tells her mom about how much they have been taught about bullies and bullying. To my knowledge this is accurate. I am sure we have all read or heard news accounts of bullying tactics and their disastrous consequences. Clearly, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs addresses this issue.

Dicks has simply written a complicated story. He manages very quickly to get the reader to champion Caroline's cause. At times, the story feels scattered but that appears entirely purposeful as Caroline's actions are often scattered and tentative.

I highly recommend this book and while I am not certain who the author intended his audience to be; I believe that it could easily succeed in a YA genre.

Thank you Book Browse for presenting me with the opportunity to meet someone like Caroline Jacobs. Her character is real and often reminded me a bit of myself while in high school. Certainly a hard topic to discuss, Dicks handles himself well here with a very moving and poignant story.

Erin J

Moments that nudge or snap us
Don't we all have a moment or moments in our childhoods that shaped us, nudged the trajectories of our lives just a little bit, changing the course of who we would become? For Caroline Jacobs, a meek mouse of a woman, these included losing her father, her best friend, and her sister. The wounds of adolescence molded her into a conflict-averse mother and a talented photographer afraid to risk rejection. And then one day, at a PTO meeting, an insult aimed at someone else snaps her virtual bonds.

Every story has different perspectives, though, and Caroline begins to see the shades of grey in differing realities, eventually learning to forgive herself as well as others for their all-too-human mistakes.

I loved this book! The only things holding me back from a 5-star rating are the contradictions and errors that might have been the result of it being an advance copy that I read courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. I'm hoping the final edits caught the timeline confusion regarding how old Caroline was when her father left, and so on. Details like that yanked me out of the story a few times, which was frustrating. Otherwise, though, it was a great story with well-developed, nuanced characters who evolved over the course of the novel.

Beverly S. (Chesterton, IN)

"Enjoyable Beach Read"
A "beach read" about a road trip. Not just any road trip, but a Mother(Caroline) & daughter(Polly) fast paced adventure.They travel back to Caroline's hometown to revisit her former best friend and settle some high school drama between them.
Along the way we meet many other colorful personalities who enrich the story and entertain us.
This is a perfect summer read, not too long, not too deep, but an entertaining story.

Karen N. (Lafayette, CA)

The Perfect Comeback of Carolyn Jacobs
I loved Matthew Green's Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, so it's no surprise that I jumped at the chance of reading/reviewing the ARC of his new novel, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. I'm so happy that I did this, since most books published in 2015 did not impress me as so many in 2014 did.

Carolyn Jacobs, the title's namesake, is a wimp.

"Passive was the word that described Caroline best. It was almost her way of life. Avoid conflict at all costs. Be aggressively agreeable whenever possible. Fly under the radar. Don't stir the pot. Acquiesce and move on from difficult situations as quickly as possible, preferably with a smile."

Caroline has a husband who loves her, although he doesn't hold on to the same job long. She also has a teen daughter, Polly, who's precocious and has a brilliant mind, although mother and daughter don't talk to each other much. She has a part time at the Sears photo lab and let her customers as well as co-workers who are less talented walk all over her. She attends school events and PTA meetings like any other suburb moms. She flows by without making any ripples in life. Talking about PTA meetings, we are in one when the book begins, Carolyn uttered a four-letter word to a passive aggressive queen bee mom, and shocked the heck out of the audience and herself.

The four-letter word she yelled has awakened something deep inside Carolyn, something she hid away for over 20 years. When Polly got into trouble the next day punching the queen bee mom's daughter in the face, Carolyn pulled her out of school and decided to drive right there and then from Maryland to Massachusetts to confront a bully in her past. A bully that she believed altered her life and her personality for the past years. With her smart and verbal daughter on her side, Carolyn was hoping that the confrontation would wrap up some unanswered questions in her life… Except that Carolyn has another devil to confront than her childhood best friend.

The relationship between mother and daughter was one of the best I've read for a long time. Their interactions were funny at times, and thought provoking at others. The readers can't help but fall in love with Polly. She's everything her mother isn't and more. I can absolutely see my daughter, whom I'm very close with, in her. Polly understands her mother, and life, so well:

"Mom, you've never lost it in your entire life. You're like the total opposite of losing it."

"Mom, someone could be chopping your hands and feet off with a butter knife and you still wouldn't complain. I've never seen you lose your temper once. Not even with me, and I deserve it. A LOT." I love you, but you get walked over all the time and never say a word. "

"Mom, she was the definition of a bully. Exclusion. Isolation. Behind-the-back bullshit. I should know. My generation is the expert in bullying. It's all we ever hear about……..We have assemblies where weirdos in costumes sing and dance about bullying. I've been taught more about bullying than I have about civil war…"

But Polly was not the only character that I loved in the book. There's Spartacus, a blind man who dates Carolyn's mother, George who just lost a parrot and is grieving, Carolyn's mother who owns a pet cemetery. Even Emily-the-bully's family has its own story to tell, but unfortunately we did not find out the ending of their story. Unanswered questions were why this book has only gotten a 4-star from me although it gave me a 5-star reading experience.

Mr. Green understands human relationships deeply. He knows what makes us happy, sad, mad, angry, betrayed and/or loved. He showed his brilliance in Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, and I can still see and feel his heart in this book. I could not put this book down once I started reading it. It made me laugh-out-loud at times and sad at others.

Since I thought "Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend" should be dedicated to all great teachers and introverts, I think this book should be dedicated to all with a loving Mother-daughter relationship and most importantly, to all that were bullied in high school.

Bullying changes lives as much as love does.

Kristen K. (Atlanta, GA)

Enjoyable Read
I enjoyed reading this book and found it an engaging and easy read. It is a story about confronting the past to make way for a brighter future. I liked the road trip with the mother and her teen age daughter and the development of their new relationship. I would recommend this book to others although not for those looking for a complicated read.

...18 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Matthew Dicks

Matthew Dicks is a writer and elementary school teacher. His articles have been published in the Hartford Courant, he has been a featured author at the Books on the Nightstand retreat, and he is a Moth Story SLAM champion. He is the author of three previous novels, Something Missing, Unexpectedly Milo, and Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, an international bestseller. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages. Dicks lives in Newington, Connecticut, with his wife, Elysha, and their two children.

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