Monday, October 3, 2022

Beach Read by Emily Henry


BEACH READ is my first book by Emily Henry, who definitely seems to be a love her or hate her kind of author when it comes to how people feel about her work. I've been seeing Tweets making fun of how basic and white her stories are for ages, and I've come to the conclusion that maybe her books are the pumpkin spice lattes of the chick-lit world. Yes, maybe they are a little over-hyped and saccharine-sweet, and maybe they are a little basic-- but also, there's a reason why millions and millions of people define themselves by them, right?

This book is the story of a girl named January. January is a romance author who's feeling a major slump because she was always inspired to write based on her parents' own larger-than-life love story, and her own good luck in love. But now she's just discovered that her father was cheating on her mother-- while she had cancer-- and when she falls into a depressive funk, her boyfriend-almost-fiance decides he just can't handle it because she's not fun anymore, and they break up.


Now January's father has died and she's at the beach house that she thinks used to be his love nest, trying to figure herself out and what she's going to do next. The picturesque town is beautiful but she's too upset to enjoy it, and all she can think about is the fun loving person she used to be. That's when she meets her grumpy neighbor-- or at least, she has several passing interactions with him where she can't really see his face. And it turns out that Grump is actually her old college writing class rival, now famous in his own right for writing pretentiously depressing lit-fic. The two of them end up bonding at a social event gone wrong and becoming closer-- close enough that they start talking about their writing road blocks and then come up with a challenge: they'll trade genres and see if writing something else fixes it, and the winner gets to have the other person blurb their book.

At first I was thinking this book was going to get a four or a five. The way the emotions the characters feel can be so beautiful. It's kind of like if someone turned every meaningful 3AM conversation you've ever had into a book. The portrayal of depression and grief felt dead-on, and I liked that every light moment of banter was counterweighted by some heavy emotional stuff. Where this book failed for me was that it started to feel a little too cyclical. After a while, it felt like Gus and January started to have the same arguments over and over. The ending, when Gus does his confession, felt a little bit mean the way he did it. And I hated the way he ended his "romance" novel-- because it didn't have an HEA. THAT'S NOT A ROMANCE NOVEL GUS. Oh my God, if I read a romance that ended the way his did, I'd be so mad. 

In the end, I'm giving this a very high three because I loved the way this author wrote about two authors falling in love and I did think that it was just the right amount of quirky. It gave me good '90s rom-com vibes. If you enjoyed Beth 'O Leary's THE FLAT SHARE, I think you'd enjoy this too. Same vibes.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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