- Author: Emily Henry
- Narrator: Julia Whelan
- Genre: Romance
- Publication Date: May 19, 2020
- Publisher: Penguin Audio
CONTENT WARNING: cancer, infidelity, death of a parent, grief, mention of alcoholism, mention of child abuse, mention of death
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
Let me start out by saying that this is my first time writing an official review on my blog for an audiobook, and this is a whole different animal. So please don’t get mad that I didn’t include any quotes — it’s super hard to get verbatim quotes while listening to an audiobook.
I have no idea why I was so resistant to reading this book initially, because it’s absolutely amazing! What isn’t to like — two authors with writer’s block living next door to each other, in a writing competition against each other, where they’re guaranteed not to fall in love. What could possibly go wrong?
The narrator was cast perfectly. Her voice was exactly as I’d have pictured January’s to be in my head, and it made her character feel so much more real to me. Also, for some reason, I’ve noticed that the funny parts sound so much funnier when they’re read out loud for some reason. And there were a lot of funny parts!
Even with all of the funny parts, there was also a lot of angst involved in the story as well. Both January and Augustus have their own challenges, but we don’t learn about his until much later in the book. January has lost her faith in romance after her father’s death and what she learned about him. How can she continue writing the romances that she’s known for? No wonder she’s got writer’s block! So when she and Gus strike a deal to swap genres, I knew this was going to be great.
They start going on weekly research outings. Gus takes January on dark and twisty field trips, and she brings him out on sweet and romantic ones. But part of the deal involves them not falling in love with each other. I think it’s pretty obvious what is going to happen. There’s plenty of pining, and this was not anything close to the fluffy read that I was expecting. It was so much more than I could have hoped for.
Along the way, we meet some awesome supporting characters. I especially loved Pete and Shadi, who added depth and personality to the story. They’re hilarious, and Shadi is the perfect example of a true ride-or-die friend. You know, the kind who can make you laugh even when you don’t want to, the one who knows exactly what to say or do no matter what is going on, and the one who will drop everything and come running when you need them. She’s the friend that every woman needs. Pete is the no-nonsense aunt who tells it like it is, even if she has no idea how terrible her drinks are. And the one quote that sticks out to me is the book club that January jokingly refers to as:
“…spies and liquefied pies.”
That one made me laugh out loud. But that certainly wasn’t the only funny line in the story. I loved everything about this book. I went from laughing at some points to feeling the pain and frustration that these characters were experiencing, and crying (both happy and sad tears) multiple times throughout the story. This is absolutely a book not to miss, and it’s definitely worth all the hype. Just in case I’m not the last person in the bookish world to read it, and you haven’t read it yet, go pick it up!
Categories: Book Review