A review by machuvicchu
Beach Read by Emily Henry

emotional funny lighthearted slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Note to self: rewrite this review because it's a mess.
I initially DNF'd this book at 20% so to the people who might be having a hard time with it - I'd say keep going if you have the time. To be honest, it took me at the 30% mark for something to really peak my interest, and 50% when I realized I would enjoy this book.

I'm going to be honest I went into this not fully reading into the synopsis/plot-line. I just knew I really wanted to sit down with a good rom-com, and this book delivered.  Budding romance, quirky side characters, personal revelations and life lessons and all. And to be very honest I'm not sure I would have picked it up if I knew of a lot of these tropes: enemies-to-lovers, grumpy x sunshine, mentions of cheating, etc, etc. But surprisingly enough, I thoroughly enjoyed it all!

I feel kind of conflicted. I'm a character-driven book kind of reader. If I don't like the characters, I don't like the book. I'm not sure I really like January or Gus. But I know that I loved reading the build-up and their journey from virtual strangers to friends to lovers. And I was rooting for them. I get that there's the allure of the initial sexual tension between enemies but those moments where they begin to open up and really allow one another to be vulnerable were my favourite. 

To be honest, I don't think I really liked their initial tension. January would begrudgingly find Gus attractive and point out his evil sexy smirk or his dishevelled clothes or his messy hair and it got repetitive. I don't know if it was on purpose but I noticed Emily Henry moved away from calling Gus' expression of an "evil sexy smirk" to a corner of his mouth that would turn or twist upwards, in recognition or contemplation. Initially I was more relieved the cringy "evil sexy smirk" comment was put away but I guess it was also a way to show that January was getting to truly know him. 

I hate when people criticize books because characters make horrible decisions. Like that's why there's a book being written, because nobody is perfect. But wow, I felt an adjacent feeling to that with Ms. January sometimes. I'm not big on the "miscommunication" trope. So for example, after January and Gus make out for the first time and he leaves for a few days. January jumps to the conclusion that this must have to do with his one-time hookup policy, a "policy" she made up in her head from observations she made from behaviours from 7 years ago!!! Or when Gus' lawyer/friend Markham calls him about the divorce, and he just starts acting strange and doesn't tell January everything. With the first miscommunication issue, I was afraid that was going to be the main driver/issue for the rest of the novel, and I'm so glad they were able to nip both of these issues in the bud relatively quickly. 

But from these situations, Emily Henry really took her time with these characters. Them coming together was definitely not instant love, and neither was it perfect. And for that, it really was an unexpected pleasure to come across. 

Petty things: I could not get over the names. They would be having such a heartwarming conversation and then all of a sudden, "Oh, January" or "Augustus Everett". I don't know what it is. I think it's just me. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Looking at the synopsis, there are tropes where you can easily decipher what's going to happen. MC that's too optimistic but she learns that there's nothing wrong with being a light in the dark world, other MC that's been too scorned by the world but learns how to open up a bit more. But the execution was excellent. Emily Henry is a really great writer. There was predictability to certain aspects of the romance (that I always love), but there were also other "unromantic" aspects to the lives of these characters that made it feel not just like a "great romance novel" but just a great novel in general.