I am not a big
romance novel fan, or at least I like to think I am not. I like to read heart
wrenching memoirs or true crime novels. Those are genres I have been drawn to
since I realized those books existed. However, thanks to my partner, I have
recently been jumping into light reads between those heart wrenching books I
adore. Honestly, I think he is turning me into a fan.
Particularly, I have been enjoying reading Emily Henry’s romance novels. I recently finished Beach Read. A story about two authors who just so happen to be living next door to one another during one humid summer in North Bear Shores, Michigan.
Romance author January Andrews has spent
her entire life romanticizing every chapter of her life. Since she can remember
her life has been story like. Her parents’ marriage was the epitome of love. It
was their love she cherished and dreamed of one day emulating. The
picture-perfect life she had carefully crafted begins to rewrite itself when
her father unexpectedly dies.
starts to come apart and is further rattled when the seismic news of her
father’s secret life is exposed at his funeral. The hopeless romantic feels
fooled for believing in the fairytale like marriage her parents portrayed her entire
life. Her life is further complicated when her partner of almost a decade ends
single, and running out of money she finds herself pulling up to her father’s home
in North Bear Shores. A ghost that contains mementos of his secret life with that
woman. A resentful January prepares to rid herself of her father’s love nest,
and as if her life could not get any worse, she is pressed for time to submit her
next bestselling book by the end of summer.
maintain a low profile while she runs from her father’s secrets, she meets Pete
at the local coffee shop. After running into Pete again at the bookstore, January
agrees to go to her book club where she runs into her former college rival, Augustus
Everett, who is now a bestselling author. The night continues to spiral, first with
the two listening to the group’s humorous breakdown of the latest sci-fi novel
they are enraptured by. Second, with the arrival of Sonya, January father’s mistress.
January realizes there is not enough wine to drown out the sorrow she feels by
her father’s betrayal and decides to leave.
As she stumbles
out of Pete’s home, her rival is not too far behind her. She is aghast that she
finds herself in front of the boy who ridiculed her writing in college and made
her feel foolish for believing in love. The suave mysterious Augustus drove
January crazy in college and sharing donuts and coffee with the mature Augustus
seems like a nightmare. Unfortunately, the nightmare does not end for January
when she discovers that the two are neighbors.
carries on with both finding themselves with writer’s block and deadlines that
cannot be put off any longer. The two engage in friendly competition when they
bet one another to write in the others genre and see who can first sell their
latest novel to their publisher. Both agree to participate in one another’s
process of researching and writing. This means that Augustus must let his walls
down and allow himself to believe in love and January must see the ugly
in the world without romanticizing reality.
The two find themselves developing feelings for one another, or at least understanding their differences. January grows to depend on the cute notes they write to one another throughout the day as they spend their day writing their books. Augustus starts to look forward to their Saturday outings. Whether they are dancing, trekking a trail, or people watching, the affection and desire for one another’s companionship grows.
This story is not
an ordinary love story, it is rooted in self-discovery and exploration. It depicts
opposites struggling to find themselves and each other as both are haunted by
their respective pasts. January faces her father’s demons, while Augustus’ past
comes back in an unpredictable twist. The more the pair grows together, the
further the current rips them apart.
Beach Read is not your classic cut and paste romance novel. It is a messy millennial love story depicting characters we (millennials) have all been at one point or another. The hopeless romantic girl listening to Something Corporate, and the shy guy who is too scared to talk to the “Punk Rock Princess.” [If you know the reference, you’re a millennial.] It shadows the complicated lives of two humans too scared to love who are running from pasts that have left them deeply wounded.
Trust me when I say you will not be disappointed when reading Emily Henry’s Beach Read. It is not your cheesy Hallmark movie depiction of what love is. No one is moving to a small farm and falling in love with the handsome doctor in town. It is a meaningful and heartwarming story, filled with laughter and a little bit of eye rolling.
Quoted pictures are Mari Rey originals.