Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape)

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape) Book Poster Image
So-so sequel with teen pregnancy, mean girl, and a gay ex.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This story will get teens thinking about relationships, growing up, bullying, and rumors. See our Families Can Talk About section for some discussion ideas.

Positive Messages

Coming-of-age themes as Belle deals with a wide-range of issues, including her best friend's unplanned pregnancy and a mean girl spreading rumors about her.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Belle is supportive and thoughtful about the people she loves, including her best friend who is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.


Belle is recovering from an attack at school from a confused former friend. She also hears that friend being abused by his father.


Belle recalls sex with her ex, and nearly has sex with her new boyfriend. She buys condoms for her friends -- and later a pregnancy test when her best friend thinks she's pregnant.


Some, like "hell," "crappy," "bitch," and "slut."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that in this sequel to Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend, a central plot point is about Belle dealing with her best friend's pregnancy -- and her own decision to have sex with her boyfriend. There is some salty language, and a mean girl tries to humiliate Belle by spreading nasty rumors. This story will get teens thinking about relationships, growing up, bullying, and rumors. 

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What's the story?

This book takes place where the first installment, Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend, left off: Belle is in her senior year of high school, and is still dealing with her gay ex-boyfriend, a mean girl who has it in for her, and a strange neighbor, who is trying to make up for attacking her at school. What's more, she also discovers that her best friend is pregnant -- just as she and her own boyfriend think they might be ready to take their relationship to the next level. And she is having seizures again.

Is it any good?

Belle's problems, even the more subtle ones, may intrigue readers. How do you support a pregnant friend? Why doesn't her dreamy boyfriend seem to want to have sex with her? Why does she always try to explain everything that everybody does? Is she secretly very selfish? The problem here is the same as in Jones' first installment: In the middle of her intriguing plot and striking writing, she dumps all the quirky small-town characters. For starters, there's Belle's duct tape-obsessed boyfriend, and her best friend who takes photos constantly so she won't forget anyone. These contrived characters deplete any connection that readers might feel for Belle or the people she cares about. Fans of the first installment might find enough to like here. Everyone else might as well skip this volume -- and hope that Jones moves on to another town for her next writing adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sequels. What is the appeal of returning to the same character -- both for readers and for writers? What's in it for publishers?

  • This book deals with both a mean girl and rumors -- both topics that have been popular in the media lately. Do you ever see this kind of behavior at school? This might be a good opportunity for parents to check in with their kids about the kinds of bullying they see, including cyberbullying.

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

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