Wesley James Ruined My Life - Jennifer Honeybourn


Quinn is having a rough summer. Her beloved grandmother has been put into a nursing home, her dad’s gambling addiction has flared back up, and now her worst enemy is back in town: Wesley James, former childhood friend and life ruiner. So when Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England-themed restaurant, the last thing Quinn’s going to do is forgive and forget. She’s determined to remove him from her life and even the score for once and for all―by getting him fired. But getting rid of Wesley isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. When Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide what she wants more: to get even, or to get the boy.




Quinn's not having her best year. Grandma's Alzheimer's is advancing so she recently had to be moved to a nursing home; dad's fallen off the wagon again with his gambling addiction (Quinn's parents ended up divorcing over this years earlier); and her once-friend-now-nemesis Wesley James has recently moved back into town. To make things more difficult, Wesley gets hired on at Quinn's place of employment, the themed restaurant Tudor Tymes. While Quinn's role is that of a serving wench, Wesley curiously gets cast as a pirate come to King Henry VIII's court.


Quinn is still holding a grudge against Wesley for how their friendship imploded a few years earlier when these kids were 6th graders. She never really hashed out her beef with him, but Quinn is convinced that a comment Wesley made back then directly led to her parents deciding to split up, hence the Wesley James Ruined My Life proclamation.

When a reader is told that the main character, nearly grown, is holding onto a grudge from 6th grade, it's hard not to expect some aspects of this character to be disappointing and problematic. Sure enough, Quinn has her faults. On one hand, you want to say if she'd just acted a little grown and hashed out her feelings with Wesley, a lot of this silliness could've been avoided, but then you reason: if we did that, we'd be out of a story, so here we are. Rather than talk things out with him in a mature fashion, Quinn decides the much better route is for her to covertly try to get him fired... but life can be funny the way it sometimes takes you down the path least expected.... can Wesley successfully smooth things over between them and turn a grudge into goosebumps?


To a point, I can understand Quinn's general unhappiness with her life. This story does get a little heavier than the cover might lead you to believe, especially getting into her father's struggles with gambling addiction and how that directly affects Quinn's dream to see England (a dream she is actively working towards, putting large chunks of her Tudor Tymes paycheck into savings for it). I myself had a father who for years struggled with a gambling addiction, so I know first hand how stressful that can make home life. There are also heartbreaking scenes of Quinn visiting her dementia-ravaged grandmother --- a woman whose main loves were books and family now can't recognize most of her loved ones anymore, and can't focus long enough to enjoy a book. Tragic! All that said, though, it was incredibly immature --- not to mention dangerous --- for Quinn to tamper with the food of unsuspecting customers just so she could put the fall on Wesley.


And then I see Gran. She's sitting in a recliner, her feet propped up. She's wearing hand-knitted slippers with little pom-poms on the toes and the fuzzy blue cardigan I got her for Christmas a few years ago. Her sparkling ruby hairpin is pinned in her white hair, right above her ear. This, at least, is familiar. My grandfather gave it to her when they were first married. It makes me happy / sad to see her wearing it. Like even though she can't remember him with her mind, maybe she still does with her heart.


And speaking of Tudor Tymes, what kind of place would get around being allowed to leave staff members in the stocks (yes, like medieval stocks) for hours on end? You'd think there'd be some sort of OSHA realm employee protection against that sort of thing... but then again, how often does that particular scenario come up? LOL


If you can overlook the slight overuse of the word "heinous" in the text AND forgive some of these characters some of their more disappointing quirks and flaws, there's actually a pretty cute story here with a good amount of heart. It felt like we, the readers, didn't get to know Wesley as well as we could have, but Honeybourn delivers enough of his charming and kind side to see that there's a good friend to be had there for anyone that gets on his good side. So don't let your mind dismiss this one as simply a silly fluff piece, there's actually a surprising amount of depth to be found in this plot!


If you participate in a YA book club, the paperback edition of this novel includes a list of discussion question prompts.