Title: Book Lovers
Author: Emily Henry
Published: 3 May 2022
To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for this book. I read Beach Read last summer for a book club I’m in and wasn’t that impressed. It was okay, but it fell mostly flat for me. For June, for the same book club, we are reading Book Lovers, and I expected a similar sort of novel. But I was surprised by how much I absolutely loved this book!
Nora Stephens’ life is all about books, she’s read them all, and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laid-back dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby. Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away. Libby definitely has visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute. If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again, what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
First off, can we all agree that we can use the term heroes as gender neutral? I abhor the term heroine because the first thing most people think of is the drug, not a hero. So, yeah heroes is now a gender-neutral term that applies to both males, females, and non-binary peoples.
To start off, I totally connected to Nora in the first chapter. I definitely relate to the whole not being the typical heroine, I’ve been described as either an aloof weirdo to an awkward turtle. I’m always either too much or never enough, so yes, there are no fairy tale happenings in my near future. So, I love Nora right away. Libby, on the other hand, was a bit frustrating to be at times. I wondered if she even really knew her sister. I totally understand that Nora hid part of herself and her dreams from Libby. However, it didn’t seem that Nora hid how much of a city-girl she was, so it was a bit weird and again frustrating that Libby kept trying to push Sunshine Falls, NC on Nora. Obviously, Libby was trying to create her own Hallmark movie with her sister, in hopes that her sister would fall in love with Sunshine Falls (and hopefully, a man) that she would stay. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
As I read the novel, I kept dreading that Henry would go the path of typical Hallmark movies, and have Nora give up everything and stay in Sunshine Falls. (Sidenote: I am not bashing Hallmark movies, if they make you happy, great, keep watching them. They’re not my cup of tea because again, I am like Nora and would be the significant other in the city you would break up with. Plus, why is it that women can’t be fulfilled with a job and the city? Why is it Hallmark movies only show that women can only be fulfilled and live happily ever after with a man and baby? Okay, I’m getting off track). Thankfully, Henry does not have Nora betray her entire being and stay in Sunshine Falls, and I absolutely love the fact that even Charlie encourages and wants Nora to go back to the City, as he understands that she belongs there.
My only big critique is that the epilogue fell a little flat for me. I understand that it was supposed to be a distant character/narrator looking over the the bookshop in Sunshine Falls at all the characters that we fell in love with. I wanted an epilogue that was a bit more concrete and up-close, like Beach Read. I’m actually thinking of actually buying a copy of this book for my shelves, which unless it’s a queer romance is rare for me.
Happy Reading Darlings!