Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is a little aloof, Gabe is shy, and it looks like they are never going to work things out.
But something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at the local Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV series. The bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes Lea and Gabe were meant to be together.
You’ll be rooting for Gabe and Lea too, in this irresistibly romantic, completely original novel!
This book was a disappointment. Like most readers, I was drawn to the multi-POV aspect of the book because a book that successfully incorporates 14 different perspectives is one that I need to read. Unfortunately, this book fell short of my expectations, which weren’t that high to begin with. Fluffy contemporary romances don’t usually put a bad taste in my mouth but this one did.
What I did like about this book was the characters and how diverse they were. Our leading lady, Lea, is Chinese. Her good friend from high school is gay and her creative writing teacher is a lesbian. Our lead male, Gabe, is Portugese and Welsh. But even though our main characters aren’t the typical white characters that we see in YA and NA novels, there’s hardly any mention of their diversity so they might as well have been white. This also made the characters very forgettable. There’s nothing about them that stands out and I probably won’t remember them in a couple weeks’ time.
The other thing that I liked about the book was that it was new adult (without all the sexy times) and featured an older cast of characters. If this book had been about high schoolers instead, it would have been very unrealistic and I would have quit it at the start. I also liked the ending of the book and how cute Lea and Gabe were together. And that concludes everything I liked about this book.
On to the negatives… the first thing that I have to talk about are the multiple perspectives. This book is written from 14 different perspectives – basically everybody except Lea and Gabe. In my opinion, this might have been a much more successful book if it had been written from only Lea and Gabe’s perspectives. The multi-POV aspect of it was very gimmicky and done very unsuccessfully, in my opinion. I personally might not have minded as much if the book was written in third person. But all of the 14 perspectives were written in first person and I didn’t enjoy reading about everybody’s inner thoughts and feelings.
I thought there were way too many perspectives and some of them were also quite pointless. We read from the perspective of a bench and from the perspective of a squirrel. I thought it was completely unnecessary. Those perspectives only existed so that we could eavesdrop on Lea and Gabe… without actually having to read from their perspectives. When you have to add unnecessary elements in order to make a gimmick work, why not just stick to how things are traditionally done – writing from the point of view of the main characters? Another completely unnecessary POV was Pam’s. Pam is the wife of creative writing teacher, Inga (whose perspective we also see). In the book, we only see Pam when she’s interacting with Inga. Why was it necessary to also read from her point of view, when we can just read from Inga’s?
Half of the things that happened in the book were so mundane and unnecessary to the plot. The squirrel couldn’t find his acorns. Gabe’s brother helps Lea find a book in the library and they have a 10 second conversation. The bus driver reminisces and thinks about how he was just like Gabe when he was younger. After 30 pages, I was already wishing the book was over.
This book also contains pretty much all the romance tropes that I dislike. There is insta-love. Lea and Gabe become interested in each other after their first meeting on Page 3, and from that point on, it’s obvious to everybody straight away that they are interested in each other and meant to be together. I mean, are they so obvious that everyone notices their mutual crush from the very first chapter? Literally all 14 perspectives notice, except maybe the bench because it’s too busy noticing how nice Gabe’s butt is every time he sits down.
And is it possible that this is my favourite butt from way back when?
There are also extreme cases of miscommunication. Lea thinks Gabe is gay. Gabe thinks Lea isn’t interested. Lea thinks Gabe is being cold and ignoring her. Gabe thinks Lea has a new boyfriend. Lea thinks he’s dating somebody else. Gabe thinks Lea hates him. If they talked to each other even once, I wouldn’t have had to suffer through this whole debacle.
I also found it almost laughable how often Lea and Gabe were in the same place at the same time. They frequent the same restaurants, cafes, parties and convenience stores… usually both at the same time. Every time one looked over, the other was there. It might have been cute if they were rarer occurrences but it happened so often that it almost became a joke. Even the other characters talked about it:
“Lea is here, which means any second Gabe is going to wander in. And like clockwork, there he is.”
Another thing that I found problematic was that everybody was pushing them to get together, even strangers. I thought it was very unrealistic and there were some things that I thought would be unacceptable in real life. Their creative writing teacher tries to push them together multiple times in her classes. She makes her class work in pairs so that Lea and Gabe would have the chance to work together. She ends up changing a final paper, a couple of days before it’s due, into something completely different so that Lea and Gabe might end up together. She tries to push them into taking another creative writing class together the next semester, and tries to discourage another female student from taking said class so that Lea wouldn’t have any extra competition. I just thought the book took it way too far, to the point where it was unrealistic.
The writing in this book was also nothing special. It felt a little bit juvenile and unsophisticated to me. I had a hard time connecting with the writing and any of the characters because none of them seemed to act their age.
I was just thoroughly let down by this book. I went in expecting something great and ended up with something quite mediocre. I probably won’t be picking up Sandy Hall’s new book any time soon.