3 Sentence Summary
Better Than the Movies is a romantic comedy by Lynn Painter about a teenage girl Lizz who has always dreamt of a happily-ever-after moment with her crush, Michael. However, her plans are disrupted when she finds herself attracted to her annoying next-door neighbor, Wes, instead. The book is a humorous and relatable take on the unrealistic expectations of romantic comedies and the messy reality of love.
Summary Read Time: Approx 4 minutes
Actual Book Length: 356
First Published in: 2021
Below is the detailed yet quick summary of the book Better Than The Movies:
Liz is a high school senior who lives with her father and stepmother, Helena, in a house next door to Wes Bennett. Her mother passed away when she was young. Liz copes with her grief by immersing herself in romantic movies and creating soundtracks for important moments in her life. She works at a bookstore and spends most of her free time hanging out with her best friend Jocelyn, who is also obsessed with romantic movies.
When Michael, Liz’s childhood crush, moves back to town and attends her school, Liz is thrilled. Michael is handsome and fits Liz’s idea of the perfect romantic partner. Liz enlists Wes to help arrange meetings with Michael, promising him the prime parking spot in front of their homes if she gets together with Michael. However, Liz begins to develop feelings for Wes as she spends more time with him. They eventually kiss after a scary movie night at Michael’s house.
Liz assumes that she and Wes will start dating, but Wes does not call or text her. Meanwhile, Michael sets up an elaborate “promposal” to invite Liz to the prom. Meanwhile Liz finds herself torn between her feelings for Wes and her desire to be with Michael. Liz eventually realizes that her expectations about love are unrealistic. She finds that she has more in common with Wes than with Michael.
As Liz tries to figure out what to do about her love life, she discovers that she misses Wes and the easy friendship they had before they kissed. She also realizes that she hurt her best friend Jocelyn and her stepmother Helena by being so focused on her own romantic goals. Additionally, Liz discovers that Michael, her childhood crush who recently moved back to town, was afraid to pursue a relationship with her because he was interested in another girl.
On prom night, Liz decides to make things right by arranging a meeting between Michael and the girl he likes. He plans to make up with Jocelyn, and spending time with Helena, who is sympathetic to Liz’s continuing grief over her mother’s death. Liz then runs into Wes, and they have a heart-to-heart conversation about their feelings for each other. Wes admits that he was scared to pursue a relationship with Liz because he didn’t want to ruin their friendship. But he also realizes that he has feelings for her that go beyond friendship.
In the end, Liz and Wes end up together and are moving to California where they will attend UCLA together. Liz also has one last visit to the cemetery before she leaves. She feels more at peace with her mother’s death than she has in the past. Overall, the climax of “Better Than the Movies” is a satisfying conclusion to Liz’s journey. She discovers that sometimes what we think we want isn’t necessarily what we need, and that true love can come from unexpected places.