There may be eleven Walter boys, but I’m only giving this book two stars.
My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak centers around Jackie Howard, a New York city native forced to move across country to live with the Walter family after her family tragically dies in a car crash. The eleven Walter boys, and their tomboy sister, are less than welcoming to Jackie into their home. However, Jackie can’t help but find herself caught in a love triangle between two of the brothers.
I’ve been wanting to read My Life with the Walter Boys since I saw it in store. First of all, the plot is very similar to another contemporary book that I really enjoy, Meagan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys. Additionally, this book was originally written on the online reading platform, Wattpad. A lot of people on Youtube or other various social media platforms have earned book deals, however I’ve never read a traditionally published book that originally appeared on a social media platform. That being said, I went in with high expectation for this book. Unfortunately, I struggled to read through this book and it failed to meet many of my expectations.
As for the main character, Jackie, she never felt believable or authentic to me. Instead, she felt like a caricature of the “sophisticated New York girl.” She wears pantsuits to school or eating spaghetti for dinner with the Walters. Her parents were incredibly rich and they lived in a penthouse apartment. Jackie was the perfect student who never earned less than an A on her report card. As a result, Jackie’s feelings never felt extremely real or deep. It made it difficult to connect with her as a character or understand her actions throughout the book.
I think another one of the largest problem with this books is the characters… there are just too many! I feel like if the author included a few less members of the Walter household, it would have been easier to keep track of all the family members and get to know them on a deeper level. Whereas in other books with similar plots, I initially struggled to keep the characters straight, but eventually figured it out due to excellent characterization, My Life with the Walter Boys missed that key ingredient. By the end, I eventually kept the older boys straight, not by their unique personalities, but whatever their chose extracurricular activity. However, I never kept the younger members of the household straight or even remembered their names.
Unfortunately, this carried over to other minor characters in the story. In the book, Jackie gains several friends. However, they felt as flat and one dimensional as the Walter boys. I never understood how they even became friends. When Jackie’s “friends” appeared on the page, it was only to discuss the hotness of the Walter boys or to point out which Jackie should date. For example, within a few minutes of meeting Jackie, they invited themselves over to her house to scope out the Walter boys. As a result, their friendship never felt genuine or authentic.
Like with the characters in this novel, the romance did not work for me and it came across as extremely unhealthy. In this book, Jackie finds herself caught between two of the brothers in the family, Cole and Alex. Throughout the book, all of the boys in the family treat Jackie horribly. They take her clothes from the bathroom because they want footage of her running through the hall naked, one gets her drunk and plays spin the bottle so he can kiss her, they throw her parents’ death in her face, or use her as a pawn to manipulate another family member. For me, any “sweet” moment between Jackie and her potential love interests were overshadowed by the toxic elements of the relationship extremely prevalent throughout the entire novel.
Overall, I wasn’t extremely impressed with this book and I found myself struggling to finish it. However, there were a few moments, like Jackie’s friendships with Nathan and Danny, that I did enjoy reading. Since I didn’t care for the characters or the romance at all in this book, I give it two out of five stars.