Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How I Ruined My Life: Blog Tour & Review

How I Ruined My Life by T. L. Bainter 
Publication Date: February 12th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult



Kyle has gone unnoticed for the vast majority of his life and he’s always preferred it that way.
Homeschooled, shy, and only attending church because he’s forced to, there’s not really anything outstanding or interesting about him. That changes, however, when he meets James Porter. The two are fast friends, but Kyle isn’t sure if that’s a good thing or not. While some of the experiences resulting from their friendship are grand, many other experiences leave Kyle broken, angry, and depressed. Is Kyle’s friendship with James really such a good thing, or would he have been better off if he’d simply remained the quiet, lonely boy that no one seemed to notice?

 About The Author:

T. L. Bainter was born in 1994 and began writing short stories not long after that. Since the age of six, he has been churning out short story after short story. After receiving an award from the renowned Writers of the Future competition for his short story Edwin, T. L. Bainter found the confidence and encouragement that he needed to write and publish his first novel: How I Ruined My Life. Currently, he resides in Kansas City with his cat, Sooba.

Find him on his website, Facebook, or Twitter

My Review:

How I Ruined My Life by T.L. Bainter was a gritty, smack you in the face kind of novel about the hardships of teen life. In many ways it's kind of like a worst-case-scenario of the American teenager: what if your parents are sheltered and overprotective? What if you have a freak accident? What if your parents' marriage is a disaster? What if you're too popular or what if you're not popular enough? Without ruining the excitement of the story unfolding, the plot explores many of these extremes in a tidal wave of the best kind of teen angst.

The main character, Kyle, is an averagely smart, average looking teen whose main oddity is that he his homeschooled by very protective parents. When I say "very protective," I mean that they consider him going to a co-op school a few hours a day a few days a week is taking away from their family time. Kyle's main struggle is to live his life and be who he wants to be within their parameters, and the best opportunity to do that comes from meeting his best friend James through a youth group.

James' life is everything Kyle's isn't: he goes to real school, has a lot of friends, a girlfriend, and relaxed parents. Unlike what the title suggests, Jame's isn't a bad influence. In fact, it's through being around him that Kyle goes through a ton of character growth and grows up. Sometimes, that's by going to parties and hanging out with James' friends, and other times it's actually doing the exact opposite of what James does. The cool thing about this novel is that while James is sort of the poster child, Kyle doesn't live his entire life trying to be James, it's more that Kyle steadily gains a better understanding of what "normal" is through their friendship.

The other great thing that Bainter did was to not paint Kyle's parents as bad guys. Personally, I thought they were awful and the way they were raising Kyle was stifling and cruel. The whole time I was expecting the other hand to drop and for Kyle to totally flip out on them, but he never really does. There are some things he does in complete opposition to them--dating before graduating college (yes, college! You read that right!), for one. But for the most part he truly loves and respects them, and more than anything wants their approval in his choices.

My biggest issue with this book was that the summary and title make it so dramatic: how I ruined my life. Yet the novel is a winding sort of growing up tale, with all kinds of ups and downs along the way, and there really is no big cataclysmic event that changes his life in one major way. Certainly the Kyle we end with is different than the fifteen-year-old Kyle that we met at the beginning, but it seems like most of the changes he makes are for the better. I wonder: is Bainter making some kind of larger moral statement, that Kyle the man grew into someone Kyle the boy wouldn't like? I'd assume not since the book ended on a bittersweet yet happy note. More likely I'd advice Bainter and his publicity team to re-evaluate their angle because I think the title is selling him short.

Rating: 3.5/5. A great read for anyone who likes realistic teen fiction, coming of age, or atypical story lines that don't have one straightforward plot.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by:
Xpresso Book Tours


  1. Great review, Nina! This sounds very character driven! Glad you liked it! :)

    1. No no, thank YOU. I'm finding some of my new favorite books from these tours :)