It seems like for the last couple of years, a rom-com comes along that just completely absorbs me and I become obsessed with it immediately. This year, that book is Beach Read by Emily Henry.
I read this book in one day, and while that may not be saying something in the era of quarantine, I can promise you that it does mean something when a physical book has the ability to hold my attention so determinedly that I stay up until 5 am before passing out with my thumb the only thing keeping my place. When I woke up five hours later, the first objective was to finish reading the book. This was serious y’all.
The story is about January Andrews, a 29 year old woman whose father just passed away revealing another woman, an affair he hid from her for years, her boyfriend broke up with her, and to top it all off, she has to write a Happily Ever After romance novel when her inspiration for true love, her parents, proved that that wasn’t the case. Needless to say, January is having a rough go at the moment. She goes to her father’s second house in Michigan, on the lake, in order to sell it and everything inside while hunkering down and finishing her novel for her agent and editor. And then she runs into her neighbor.
Agustus Everett (or Gus as she knows him from college) has also become a writer. Where Janurary writes romance, Gus writes depressing literary fiction that show the bleak reality of the world. They’d been rivals in college and now they will be squaring up in a bet. Gus will write a romance novel, January will write literary fiction, no happy ending in sight, winner gets the ultimate bragging rights. And I get a hate to love romance with a competition mixed in, count me in my popcorn is ready.
There are a lot of things that I loved about this story the main one being the dialogue. Give me witty, snarky banter any day and I will swoon and giggle ’til the cows come home. Within the first 50 pages I had giggled (I really think that’s the only acceptable description for the embarrassing noises that I was making in the safety of my own home) so many times because of how good the back and forth was between these two characters. They weren’t alone in having good characterization though, Pete and Maggie (a lesbian couple!!!!!) were so rich in character and personality that they felt just as real and fleshed out as the main characters, something that doesn’t always happen in a romance novel. The pacing of the book was also exceptional; I never felt like it was dragging or taking on airs about something. It flowed how real relationships flowed, and for once it had a main character call themselves out on “silly miscommunication” being a wedge in the relationship.
Now this isn’t to say that there wasn’t one or two things that I felt weren’t executed to my liking. There is a continuing plot line about January’s father’s mistress and it went from no one knowing who she was so as to save them both face, to multiple people knowing and having no scene where that was addressed. I’m trying to keep it vague and spoiler free but if you’ve read the book I think you’ll know what I mean.
Additionally, and I know this is more of a Me thing than any actual criticism of this book but I would be remise if I did not say it, there is no way that Gus is a Gemini (or Taurus, the ending kind of changed it up and there was never a concrete date) or January a Capricorn. Nope, I’m sorry. If they are then Gus is a Scorpio moon, Scorpio rising, Scorpio mercury and venus and January is a Libra moon, Libra rising, and Libra venus. *Insert ‘Am I wrong?’ audio clip* Gus is such a broody, moody, secretive Scorpio, and January is such a magnetic, chipper, ‘I love love” Libra. Period. I’m sure Emily Henry has reasons to give them the birthdays she did, but you cannot convince me otherwise on this.
All this to say, if you like romance, if you need an escape, a distraction, from everything that is going on in the world right now, I highly highly suggest pre-ordering this so that when it comes out, you can crack the book open and dive into such a wonderful story full of heartache, honesty, and hope. I’m so glad that I chose this as my April Book of the Month because I got to read it early, but my pre-order still stands and I will be happy to have two copies. Let me know what you think if you’ve read this, I welcome the debate on their astrological signs, though it will take a lot to convince me otherwise haha.