The Boyfriend Thief was surprisingly deep for something I though initially would be a light, fluffy and quick read. This is the story of Avery James, a young overachiever (well it may be more accurate to say control freak). Avery definitely seemed to have some OCD tendencies, which developed after her mother left without a word four years prior. Avery likes to be in control, she oversees every aspect of her father and younger brother's lives, making sure they eat healthy and that everything in their house runs smoothly and efficiently. She dreams of being a doctor and plans to undertake a program in Costa Rica during the summer between her junior and senior year of high school, which will augment her college application. Her focus is on getting the necessary grades to be accepted into medical school. She doesn't have time for much socialising and keeps other people at a distance.
As money is tight, Avery is saving money for this trip herself and when she is not studying she is working at her local hot-dog diner trying to earn enough cash to fund her trip. Avery despairs that she will never raise the money in time. However, Avery soon receives an offer from an unlikely source. Her former best friend Hannah offers to pay her to 'steal' her boyfriend. Avery and Hannah have a troubled history. They were once the closest of friends but a mistake that Avery made ruined their friendship with each other, and with a boy named Elliott, whom Avery now despises.
Avery and Hannah always compete with each other and both are determined to be valedictorian when they finish up their senior year. Hannah is also the most popular girl in their junior year and she is dating one of the most popular boys called Zac. Hannah's offer stuns Avery, who can't believe why Hannah cannot just break up with Zac instead of dragging her into it. Hannah's offer of money is too much for Avery to resist (not to mention the fact that Hannah uses a little blackmail to get Avery to agree). Hannah doesn't want to be painted as the 'bad guy' for dumping Zac as she has her reputation to think of. She wants Avery to do the dirty work for her.
Avery finds herself partnered with Zac, a boy she has never actually spoken to, during a class project and as they spend time together Avery finds herself opening up in a way that she never has before. Zac is unlike anybody Avery has ever met, so full of energy and passion. His life is one of chaos and he is the type of person that likes to dance in public just for the fun of it. Zac is her complete opposite but Avery cannot help but be drawn to him. As they spend more time together, her attraction grows but how will Zac react when he finds out that their friendship is based on a lie and that Avery is being 'paid' by his girlfriend to facilitate their break-up?
I really enjoyed this although Avery is certainly a frustrating character with all her baggage and control freak tendencies. I could relate to her a lot though and understood why she had ended up this way. Zac was an absolutely brilliant character. I was charmed right away with his charisma and ofttimes devil-may-care attitude. He was a caring character as well though and I liked how he 'got' Avery and how understanding and patient he was with her and her hang-ups and how he encouraged her to break out of the shell she was hiding herself in. I also liked that Avery saw through Zac's confidant exterior and was cheering when she spoke up for him to his father (who was prone to giving him a hard time for not being serious enough). Avery and Zac were both very flawed characters but they complemented and brought out the best in each other. There were a lot of deeper issues bubbling under the surface and these were explored in a subtle but meaningful way.
Overall, I was really taken with the story and characters in this. I will definitely be seeking out more Shana Norris books on the strength of this one.