by Emily Henry
I have been stalling on writing this review for days. I just don’t know where to start. Beach Read was described as a rom-com, but as reviews began circulating, it was clear that this book had more depth than the typical, easy, breezy romantic comedy.
Gus and January write complete opposite genres of fiction, and have been rivals since college. When January is forced to move into her father’s beach house after his death, they are unexpectedly reconnected, and coerced into walking down memory lane together.
I really enjoyed both of these character’s personalities. I thought they had a tangible depth, and that they were part of a realistic love story. Life is complicated, and complex. Gus views things through the lens of childhood trauma, while January is coping with fresh betrayal and the death of her father. I think that’s why I’m having such a hard time writing a review of this book, because both of their lives feel so real to me, and to comment on or criticize someone’s life feels inherently wrong (this is why I stick to fantasy so much).
I liked and believed the chemistry that emanated off of Gus and January. They were hungry for each other, and depriving themselves day after day only made tensions rise. There was a lot of angst and a buildup that made their surrender to each other feel like a long held sigh. As with any good romance, there’s something in the protagonist’s way of true, easy love. January and Gus were no exception. It wasn’t until the last one hundred pages of this novel that the emotional impact finally hit me, and I curled up sobbing while trying to finish this book.
—>There’s a big spoiler (in parenthesis) in the next paragraph.<—
—>Proceed with caution.<—
For some, this book could seem all doom and gloom, and I totally get that. For me, this just felt real. This felt like real life, even though it’s a work of fiction. I was mostly just excited to watch January and Gus writing their novels and falling into lust/love with each other, so when the trajectory changing moment happened I felt prepared and caught off guard all at once. The closure January had been searching for from her father is something my own father has been doing for me my whole life (he just hasn’t kept it a secret (that he’s written me a letter and kept a journal every year of my life)). It was at this point for me, when fiction met reality, that this book transitioned into new territory.
I really liked that this was a book about writing, life, loss, trauma, and love. I think if you’re just looking for a romance to sweep you off your feet, this might not be a perfect fit for you. But as a person who loves books, the writing process, and falling in love I was able to move past anything else plot-wise that may have made this a unpleasurable experience.
I liked this book. But I’m not recovered from it. This book does have a happy ending, which is something I always crave from romance novels, and I was terribly worried that it wouldn’t have a satisfying conclusion.