Published by BERKLEY on May 19, 2020
Genres: Women's Fiction, Romance, Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Emily Henry’s new novel, Beach Read, is a book you don’t want to judge by its cover. The cover is adorable of course and I love it, but it definitely gives off a vibe that this is going to be a fun, fluffy read to enjoy while you’re lounging in the sand. Beach Read is so much more than that though – it’s a beautifully written, multi-layered story with realistic and complex characters that will tug at your heartstrings the entire time you’re reading. I love a book that takes me on an emotional journey, and Beach Read made me laugh, it made me cry, and just ultimately had me fully invested in these characters and their lives from start to finish.
One of my favorite parts about Beach Read is that both protagonists are writers. January Andrews is a romance writer and is an ace at writing novels where true love wins and they all live happily ever after. Her belief system when it comes to love and romance is driven by her parents, but when her father dies, she learns something about him that shatters her view of him and of love and romance. Not only is it devastating to her personally, but it has given her a wicked case of writer’s block. With a book deadline looming and an agent hounding her relentlessly, January retreats to her father’s second home, a beach house located in a remote but charming small town. It is here that she runs into our second protagonist, Augustus (Gus) Everett, who is living in the beach house next door and who coincidentally is also a writer whose specialty is literary fiction. And if that’s not enough to entice you, he also just happens to be January’s main rival from her college writing program. January is not a fan of Gus’s at all and can’t imagine anything worse than having to live next door to him all summer while trying desperately to make her deadline.
I was sympathetic to January right away. She’s going through so much because of the losses she has suffered and now she has to deal with the tension with Gus on top of it. But, boy do these two have chemistry! It’s off the charts honestly and I love how much the actual writing process plays a role in how their relationship evolves from rivals/enemies to friends and maybe more. At first they’re just trading witty, sarcastic barbs, often about each other’s preferred fictional genre, but then they kick it up a notch and revisit their old rivalry with the ultimate challenge: January has to write a book that doesn’t end happily ever after, while Gus has to write a romance novel. Bring it!
I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to spoil anything but the story takes a more emotional turn as Gus and January both get out of their comfort zones and write something so different and challenging. It becomes a way for both of them to work through their pain and struggles, because it’s not just January who is dealing with loss. Gus is as well. It’s these painful and personal journeys that add all of those wonderfully complex layers that took Beach Read well beyond the fluffy fun I was expecting.
Beach Read is, without a doubt, one of the most wonderful and heartwarming books I’ve read so far this year. The writing is gorgeous, the story just so easy to get immersed in, and the characters are unforgettable. This was my first time reading Emily Henry but it definitely won’t be the last!