TITLE: Beach Read
AUTHOR: Emily Henry
AGE RANGE: Adult
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.
“Let me guess: Everyone lives happily ever after. Again.”
I know everyone has already raved about this, but let me go ahead and chime in: I loved this SO much. I enjoy a good fluffy rom-com as much as any other romance reader, but the true key to my heart? A slow-burning, angsty romance with legitimate obstacles and flawed humans doing their best to muddle their way through, and that’s exactly what this story gave me.
“Are you worried it’s a slippery slope from getting into my car to going down the Slip ‘N Slide on my roof and competing in my heavily publicized Jell-O wrestling matches?”
My heart absolutely ached for these two, even when I was literally laughing out loud over their banter (which feels like Emily Henry just sat down and recorded an actual couple flirting and picking at each other — it’s so authentic). There are just so many layers to the people in this story and I enjoyed every single moment of it.
“I’m a very tall five-four, actually,” I said. He narrowed his eyes and shook his head at me. “You’re as small as you are ridiculous.”
Even the most minor side characters felt fleshed out and truly important (including The Other Woman, in a turn of events I couldn’t have predicted but appreciated endlessly), but the star of the show for me was January herself, who has to be one of the most lovable romance narrators I’ve ever read. Her insecurities feel reasonable and relatable, yet her passion for life and others never fails, even when she can’t always see it in herself.
He never looked away from any of it. Maybe he thought someone had to bear witness to the dark, or maybe he hoped that if he stared into the pitch-black long enough, his eyes would adjust and he’d see answers hiding in it.
Not to mention, Gus is a tremendously lovable hero, especially once we see behind the walls he holds up and realize why he is the way he is. No spoilers but, the brief speech he gives near the end about how he behaved in college, and what his life was really like at that time? It broke my heart. He’s such a grumpy, misunderstood softy (my #1 favorite love interest archetype) and I adored him.
“That’s what you do. For your readers. For me. You make beautiful things, because you love the world, and maybe the world doesn’t always look how it does in your books, but… I think putting them out there, that changes the world a little bit. And the world can’t afford to lose that.”
Most of all, though, watching January and Augustus learn to live their lives and be as happy as they could be, in each moment, despite everything? I needed that right now. Emily Henry, thank you so much for putting this beautiful story out into the world. I can’t wait to reread it over and over again.
grieving lost parents, discussions of cancer & treatments, references to parental abuse, descriptions of cult, vague reference to infant death, mentions of infidelity, mentions of divorce
This was worth every bit of the hype it has received, and then some. A beautiful, funny, at times heartbreaking tale of two people finding their way not only to happiness and each other, but also to healing and forgiveness.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? YES!
— destiny ♥
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