12 SUMMERS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they’ll never speak again.
11 SUMMERS AGO: They’re forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together.
10 SUMMERS AGO: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver.
Poppy holds his hand the whole way.
7 SUMMERS AGO: They get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans.
2 SUMMERS AGO: It all goes wrong.
THIS SUMMER: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.
Ever since Beach Read, Emily Henry is a hot, blinking light on my radar for writing the most exciting rom com. Like her previous book, don’t be fooled by the light-hearted, sugary cover – this is a deep friends-to-lovers story with sharp lines. The characters are intense, one-of-kind and reassuringly real and messy. From start to finish, I was laughing at the quips and frowning at the complexity of the relationships described.
I love opposites-attract and this book does it so well. Poppy is adorably loud while Alex is reserved and self-conscious. When they get together it’s both comforting and hilarious. I’m not a fan of the friends-to-lovers trope as it can be quite frustrating and the ‘will-they-won’t-they’ question lingers into a slow burn. To be honest, this book did have some long moments and I was glad that I listened to it as an audiobook. It was more relaxing to listen to some of the awkward moments. The narration was also energetic, sophisticated and avoided being too embarrassing when it came to the more romantic parts (which can be a problem when there’s one narrator doing male and female voices!).
Most of all You And Me… stood out to me as a truly deep exploration of relationships; what people mean to each other and how we need them at particular moments of our lives. It stayed with me and I can’t wait for the next book.
Published by Penguin, 20th August 2020, 368 pages, 99p (kindle)
Don’t be fooled by the bright ‘n’ breezy cover design and the catchy title. This is a ‘women’s fiction’-romance crossover with an edge. What do I mean by that? Emily Henry manages to balance cosy and light with razor-sharp flirting, intense love scenes and dark tones, making it much more than a jolly ‘romcom’. It’s a fiery force to be reckoned with and will be more sizzling than this year’s impending heatwave.
The plot is a hate-to-love one (my favourite) with a binding pact. Bestselling romance writer January, suffering from a family upheaval and loss, moves into her father’s old beach house to escape the universe and come to terms with the heavy secrets the house symbolises. As it turns out, her next-door neighbour happens to be Gus – THE Gus from college – arrogant acclaimed writer of ‘serious’ award-winning fiction. The Gus who represents everything she despises whilst also being incredibly handsome and doesn’t seem to remember her. They’re forced to bump into each other in the adorable small town, with charming indie book store and quirky secondaries included. As sparks are fired (or more like delicious daggers), they realise that they’re both stuck with writer’s block and dare the other to write their genre by the end of the summer. Gus will write romance and January will do Hemmingway rip-offs.
I read this during the pre-lockdown commute, once upon a time. I remember that the dialogue was so fast-paced and witty, it flew out of my kindle to prod my sleepy face awake against the pale morning sun. I can guarantee it really is ‘laugh-out’ hilarious. What I love the most are the original jokes that amplify refreshing dialogue. Many authors play it safe for romantic conversations, but Emily Henry seems to have taken the time and care to experiment with new topics. I felt that the pacing did slow down significantly towards the end, especially after the characters have cooled off. As a result, the revelations about her family’s past may have arrived too late.
In essence, it sets the bar for summer romances this year.