Beach Read by Emily Henry

Rating: 2 out of 5.

When Beach Read popped up as a Book of the Month option, I read the synopsis and chose it immediately! I mean, look at this:

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

What a cute idea- two authors stuck in writer’s block who form a bet to write in each other’s genre… and in the process they learn to respect each other’s work and process while falling in love!

To me, this sounded like the perfect summery beach read!

I am sad to say, though, that this book ended up falling flat for me. It was very sweet, don’t get me wrong, and I think many of my friends would really enjoy this heartfelt story. Personally, however, I just wasn’t absorbed in it, it didn’t capture my heart the way it seems to have for so many others. I am so glad many other people fell in love with Gus and January, but I simply didn’t. 

The author’s writing was immersive and breezy, and I loved the parts that showed the life of a writer, such as the research, the hours spent unmoving while your brain spins a new world into existence, the morphing of an original idea into something new. I loved watching January’s characters grow into something she wasn’t expecting and watching her combat herself to find the right story. It felt very true to life for me. 

Also, January got to have a moment many of us long for, or at least I do! She got to call out traditional “literature” and how it is somehow set on a higher pedestal than other genres and how that’s complete bull. She stood up for her writing and was proud of it. 

The only thing I could have done without was in the middle of her standing up for her books, she said, “In fact, my books aren’t even shelved as romance, technically. They’re shelved as women’s fiction.” On the one hand, she got to emphasize that yes, it is lame for there to need to be “women’s fiction” genre separate from a “fiction”, because that inherently means “fiction” is a male-dominated genre and that’s JUST NOT RIGHT, but on the other hand, she just distanced herself from the Romance genre as though that is a worse thing to be. It was strange to me, and a little condescending, in my opinion, as though being shelved separately from “romance” is something of note. 

To that point, “Beach Read” isn’t generally categorized as “romance” either, it is also “women’s fiction”, just like January’s novels. This only makes me wonder just how much the author inserted herself into January and this story, because that seems pretty on the nose. Somehow, that peek behind the curtain took some of the magic away for me, and it left me wanting a spark of creativity from the book that I don’t feel was delivered.

But, I digress!

The growth of Gus and January’s relationship was hands-down adorable, in particular where they recognized that they were very different people at first glance. Yet, the more they learned about each other and got to know one another the more they recognized themselves in each other. I thought it was beautiful how they gradually learned to communicate verbally when their actions fell short, and to recognize that the other needed something from them, and to speak up when they needed something in turn. 

Unfortunately, the resolution of their romance fell flat for me, and also somehow felt over the top? I am glad they had a HEA, though, and the epilogue was very sweet and quirky and very January.

One more aspect of “Beach Read” that isn’t mentioned in the synopsis is that January has to cope with a blow that blind-sided her in her relationship with her father. He passed away, which was utterly heart-breaking for her, but then at the same time she has to reconcile with the fact that he had led a double-life, at least for a period of time.

There was another woman, and January had no idea.

Her image of her perfect, heroic, understanding father who loved her and her mother more than anything else in the world is shattered, and she doesn’t know what to believe in anymore. Always the dreamy romantic, January is left floating in the sea without a life vest, so to speak, and she’s floundering a little. January has to come to terms with what she truly wants in her life versus what she always thought she wanted, as well as her love for the man she realizes she never truly knew.

It’s a touching story, and watching January cope and learn to grow was very charming, but I never really felt that moment where I connected with the characters, and as I mentioned before, the ending and resolution to both of January’s journeys fell flat for me. 

It’s strange because I’m generally a lover of heart-felt stories full of more character growth than plot but somehow this one missed the mark of my heart by less than an inch. I am so glad so many people have fallen in love with January and Gus and their story, but I just am not one of them. So close, and definitely a sweet read, but overall, I give it an okay 2 stars.

Published by francinewonders

Hi! My name is Francine and I spend a lot of time wandering about while wondering about stuff. I like to talk about cats, books, travel, and all things w@nderful. Follow me on Instagram: @francinewonders

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