Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

“That’s the thing about women. There’s no good way to be one. Wear your emotions on your sleeve and you’re hysterical. Keep them tucked away where your boyfriend doesn’t have to tend to them and you’re a heartless bitch.”

Nora Stephens is an amazing book agent. She gets her clients the best deals and is called “The Shark” behind her back for her ruthlessness. The only person who matters to Nora is Libby, her little sister and her family. Nora has been taking care of Libby since their mother died and is determined to make sure that Libby keeps living a stress free life even though Libby is now married with two kids and another one on the way.

This is why Nora agrees to visit Sunshine Falls, North Carolina with her sister in order to destress before the baby comes. Small towns are not her thing but she has promised Libby two weeks of uninterrupted sister bonding time including completing a list of small town romance cliches while they’re there.

“That’s life. You’re always making decisions, taking paths that lead you away from the rest before you can see where they end. Maybe that’s why we as a species love stories so much. All those chances for do-overs, opportunities to live the lives we’ll never have.”

Instead of bumping into a smart and funny but totally hot farmer while living in the small town, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, an editor from the city who is in Sunshine Falls to take care of his aging parents and whip their affairs into shape. Charlie and Nora have met many times before but always on days when they both weren’t bringing their best to the world, so this presents a chance for them to start over and get to know each other as people not as an editor and agent.

“Maybe love shouldn’t be built on a foundation of compromises, but maybe it can’t exist without them either. Not the kind that forces two people into shapes they don’t fit in, but the kind that loosens their grips, always leaves room to grow. Compromises that say, there will be a you-shaped space in my heart, and if your shape changes, I will adapt.”

I have unwittingly become an Emily Henry completist and every book of hers just keeps getting better. I’m actually scared to read her next book because I don’t see how she can keep this momentum forever. Henry reminds me of Nora Ephron so much. Her characters have depth and interact in ways that you can see why they would fall in love. Nora and Charlie are my favorite characters of hers till date. They are smart, older and know exactly what they want in life. They both know they don’t want to have kids and there is no grand announcement about why. It’s stated as a matter of fact and moved on from.

The banter between the two characters is smart and just snappy. It is the banter I have in my head when I picture the perfect relationship back and forth between two smart and well read people. I also like that Henry didn’t lean into the enemies to lovers trope. In my opinion, they were never enemies. They just had a bad work meeting that they both put behind them, so it was so easy to see how they’d meet in another context and get along very well.

“Not every decision a woman makes is some grand indictment on other women’s lives.”

As much as this is a romance book, the best thing about Emily Henry’s books is that it’s never just about the romance. At the core of this book is a sister relationship. Nora and Libby have a very codependent relationship with Nora thinking she can shield her sister from all the hurt in the world. At first, I was very annoyed by this relationship and every time they would come up, I just wanted to go back to the amazing banter between the two main characters. But as the book unraveled and I got the backstory of their relationship and how young they both were when their mother died and the circumstances surrounding their mother’s death, I understood why Nora felt so responsible for an actual adult with a thriving family of her own now. The resolution to the sister relationship was very organic and satisfying.

“Can’t think of a greater symbol of hope than a person who’s willing to drag themselves out of bed and sing at the top of their lungs to a group of strangers trapped on a train. That tenacity should be rewarded.”

You know how at the 85-90% mark of every romance book, the main characters have some unresolved conflict then they break up before finally coming back together to give us the happily ever after we lovers of romance read these books for? This is the first time that I actually thought the conflict reflected real life. The circumstances surrounding their conflict was very mature and I could see why that would come up because they had already talked about it before they began their “relationship” so when it came up, I wasn’t surprised. Just grateful that Henry thinks very highly of her readers to sell us some silly conflict that doesn’t even make sense with the characters she has created.

“The last-page ache. The deep breath in after you’ve set the book aside.”

That quote is exactly how I felt when I completed this book. If you’ve read People We Meet on Vacation and loved it, I promise you that this book is even better. Anyway, I really liked this one. I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy

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