Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Emily Henry - Beach Read

January is a hopeless romantic who narrates her life like she's the lead in a blockbuster movie.
Gus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.
But January and Gus have more in common than you'd think:
They're both broke.
They've got crippling writer's block.
And they need to write bestsellers before summer ends.
The result? A bet to swap genres and see who gets published first.
The risk? In telling each other's stories, their worlds might be changed entirely...

Comment: This book has been liked by many people, was a bit hyped for a while and was in many readers' "best of" lists last year. I felt curious but only now found the possibility to read it and I have to say, after so much hype, I imagined it would be an even better book (if not better romance).

In this novel we meet writers January and Augustus, whose respective careers seem to have stalled. They see each other again, years after college, when both are in a low point in their personal lives as well and on a dare, they challenge each other to try to write the other person's genre and thus, January will write literary fiction and Augustus will write a romance. As they exchange ideas, inspiration and whatever they can think of, will they also realize the connection they had when they were college students can now become something so much more important and stronger?

Perhaps I wasn't as able to focus as in other times, the last month was a little disappointing to me and my usual average, in part because of how easily distracted I had been by other things. Still, I kept hoping the books I picked would be so great I wouldn't have other option but to leave my lack of motivation behind. Perhaps I was too naive but between that and the overall impression I had of this book, I liked it but my final opinion wasn't as great after all.

The two protagonists met while they were in the university and apparently, they shared a moment at some point but never really admitted anything. Now, all this time later they meet again by chance after the heroine January discovers her late father left her a beach house and that he had shared it with another woman, not her mother. She feels betrayed and unable to cope, since he is gone...then there's also the fact her job isn't easy lately and her boyfriend left her, so she goes to the house to see it and try to find inspiration. She finds weird coincidences and Augustus. I found the premise to be an interesting one and I was curious to see how the love for writing would unite them but I also hoped this was more on the fun side. The covers used certainly seem to convey that message...

January is a romance writer and I liked how she and Augustus would discuss the theme and other writing issues in their conversations. I liked her as a female romance writer and her reasons for why she chose that path, I liked how emotional she was and I liked her interactions with Augustus. He is a literary fiction writer so their share of opinions was interesting, especially for those who like books. However, I also struggled to keep my interest in the scenes they had together, in how they told each other about their problems and how that affected them. Something about the writing wasn't as easy as I imagined and I was a little bored here and there.

As a whole, I liked the story, the book, but I thought it would have an even better balance between the difficult things the protagonists lived through and the place where they are when the story begins. I still had a complicated time finding motivation to be interested in their life stories and why they were acting towards each other like that or why were they presenting themselves to the world like that...there were parts which didn't feel very romantic and while this usually doesn't bother me, the other elements that could have done that didn't really wow me here.

For me, the writing style was good enough but the tone and theme of the book wasn't as sweet as the blurb seems to suggest. Nothing wrong with it, but it did confuse me in some moments, which was another little thing I kept noticing and which caused me to not be as entertained. It actually got to a point I was counting the pages left to see if there was yet a lot...

Still, the story as a whole, the connection of the parts makes for a good enough read, that's a given. I liked the end despite being a little unrealistic for the kind of things which happened before (I was not sold on the couple's everlasting love...) and I liked all the book talk, even when it was done by secondary characters. But yes, the tone mostly, made me a little melancholic reading this and even recognizing it, I still wished the book was different.
Grade: 7/10

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