Review: The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks


Title: The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs

Author: Matthew Dicks

Published: St Martins Press September 2015

Read an excerpt

Status: Read from September 06 to 08, 2015 — I own a copy   {courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

“It was that moment, that very instant, that Caroline’s idea was born. The boldest, craziest idea of her life. It wasn’t a fully formulated plan. It wasn’t even a fully formulated idea. But it was the beginning of an idea. The spark….Caroline Jacobs knew that if she didn’t act now, she never would.”

Matthew Dick’s novel, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, is a charming, thoughtful and funny story about a journey of self discovery as a woman confronts the demons of her past.

“Passive was the word that described Caroline best. It was almost her way of life. Avoid conflict at all costs. Be aggressively agreeable whenever possible. Fly under the radar. Don’t stir the pot. Acquiesce and move on from difficult situations as quickly as possible, preferably with a smile.”

Caroline Jacobs surprises herself, and a crowd of PTA mothers, when she reacts to a hapless mother being bullied by an overbearing PTA mom with an explosive expletive, but it sparks a fire in the usually submissive Caroline that leads her to the doorstep of her former childhood best friend turned high school tormentor. With her recalcitrant teenage daughter in tow, Caroline heads to her hometown, determined to confront Emily Kaplan and say the things she should have said in the moment that changed everything, twenty five years earlier.

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs offers an appealing mix of humour and emotional drama, exploring the themes of self discovery, friendship, bullying and fate.

“All I know is that I’m the same person I was in high school. I know a little more and I’ve done a little more, but I’m essentially the same person. I didn’t suddenly become something different when I became an adult. And part of me is the result of what happened in the cafeteria that day and all those days after. A big part.”

Like Caroline I avoid conflict whenever possible, and similarly I was betrayed by a friend in high school. Nearly thirty years later the memory still stings a little, and while I would never dream of confronting her, I admired and even understood Caroline’s decision to do so. I think the author is right in suggesting that this type of incident can have a lasting effect, and this is especially true for Caroline since the incident is linked to the tragic death of her sister.

“Mom, she was the definition of a bully. Exclusion. Isolation. Behind-the-back bullshit. I should know. My generation is the expert on bullying. It’s all we ever hear about.”

Caroline’s teenage daughter Polly is a wonderful foil to her meek mother. Though I’d personally be appalled if my daughter spoke to me in the same manner, she is wise beyond her years, and her blunt and outspoken nature is something to admire. I really enjoyed the development of the relationship between mother and daughter over the course of the novel.

Throw in a small cast of quirky supporting characters including Caroline’s mother, her blind boyfriend, Spartacus, and a man mourning his pet parrot, a road trip, a runaway and a repentant bully, and The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs is a hugely enjoyable read.

Available to purchase via

Macmillan I Amazon US I Book Depository I Indie Bound

Via Booko



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kate W
    Sep 11, 2015 @ 17:16:09

    Looking forward to this one…



  2. laurelrainsnow
    Sep 12, 2015 @ 02:19:02

    I love the sound of this one! Who hasn’t had thoughts about people or events in the past, wishing we could have had the perfect “comeback.” Thanks for sharing.



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