Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Life's Too Short by Abby Jimenez


This book was a rollercoaster of feelings and I enjoyed almost every moment of it. I'm not the biggest fan of "chicklit" or fluffy romance. Part of the problem, for me, is that I need a book to have high emotional stakes or I get bored, and too many of the light and fluffy romances just feel exactly that... light and fluffy, with no substance. LIFE'S TOO SHORT threw all the emotional stakes at me that I could handle and it was one of the few friends-to-lovers romances I've read that wasn't saccharine, where the meet-cute didn't feel contrived and I actually bought all the affection-- and tension-- between the couple.

Vanessa is a popular YouTuber and travel blogger. She lives a life that many would envy but beneath the surface she has a lot of problems. Her father is a hoarder, her sister is a drug addict, her brother is a fuck-up, and she's been appointed the temporary guardian of her sister's baby, Grace, which has been keeping her house-bound in what might be her final moments: because early-onset ALS runs in her families and she might be experiencing some of the first symptoms.

Adrian is a lawyer who has just found out his girlfriend is a married woman who's been cheating on him. He meets Vanessa when he goes to complain about her crying baby, only to feel like a total dick when he sees how stressed she is. He offers to watch the baby while she showers, discovers that the crying was due to a plastic tag in her clothes, and a truce is formed between them. More than a truce, actually. They talk, get to know each other, and become fast friends.

I just loved the way the relationships built between these two. It felt natural and authentic in a way that a lot of chicklit does not. I also really liked Vanessa. She didn't come across as a dick at all. You could actually see why so many people liked her. She had the personality of a magic pixie dream girl but her reasons for being so spontaneous-- knowing that she might only have a year left to live-- really sold her determination to keep things as fun as possible. And her family's drama tore at my heart. Adrian has his fair share of drama, too, and part of that is coming to terms with Vanessa and her disease. This book tackled a lot of difficult subjects and it did so beautifully, without short-changing the gravitas of the situations but also not portraying them as hopeless, and I liked the emphasis on therapy, sober companions, life coaches, and counselors. Many books gloss over on the options for mental health.

The only things I didn't like about this book was the third-act couples fight (although I bought it) and the sex scenes. I'm sorry, but if you're going to string out the unresolved sexual tension, the pay-off better be good and comparing the heat coming off the hero's dick to a lightsaber just doesn't do it for me. Those things were the only obstacles between this book and a five-star rating because they really bothered me, but it was still a fantastic book with great characters, and if you're going to read one friends-to-lovers romance this year, I would strongly urge you to make it this one.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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