Beach Read is basically a Hallmark movie but better. Way better. If I were asked to describe the book in one word, that word would be: AWWW. It was sweet and heartfelt and incredibly funny, with enough drama and depth to keep itself from becoming overly saccharine. The romance was made even better by the fact that it was between two writers.
“And that was the moment I realized: when the world felt dark and scary, love could whisk you off to go dancing; laughter could take some of the pain away; beauty could punch holes in your fear. I decided then that my life would be full of all three.”
Two authors who write in wildly different genres but decide to swap for the summer, to see who could most easily don the other’s writerly hat, so to speak. So the literary fiction guy who doesn’t believe in happy endings has to try his hand at a rom-com, while the romance author attempts to pen something bleak and high brow. I found that role reversal such a fun one, especially as someone who is infatuated with writing as an art form. Being given the chance to observe the lifestyle of a writer is always a joy, and that was especially true with this book.
“That was what I’d always loved about reading, what had driven me to write in the first place. That feeling that a new world was being spun like a spiderweb around you and you couldn’t move until the whole thing had revealed itself to you.”
I loved what Henry had to say about the writing process and literature and the publishing world through her characters. At one point January, the perspective character, goes on a rant about how women’s fiction shouldn’t be a genre, and I wholeheartedly agree with her. I read a healthy amount of novels that are billed as women’s fiction, but I never classify them as such myself. If the same exact story was penned by a male it would just be considered fiction, so I think that’s what we should call it. I don’t think any art should be labeled based on the sex organs of its creator or potential consumers. We don’t endorse that type of labeling with any other medium, so why do we do it with books?
“If you swapped out all my Jessicas for Johns, do you know what you’d get? Fiction. Just fiction. Ready and willing to be read by anyone, but somehow by being a woman who writes about women, I’ve eliminated half the Earth’s population from my potential readers, and you know what? I don’t feel ashamed of that. I feel pissed.”
I adore January. She’s such a beautiful mess of a human being. January has lived her entire life secure in the fact that things will work out. Even in the midst of hardship, like her mother’s battles with cancer, she has steadfastly believed in silver linings and glasses that are half full. The death of her father and revelations regarding his life rock her optimism to its core, and she can’t seem to claw her way back to her sunny disposition. This has drastically impeded her writing, as it’s hard to pen happily ever afters when you no longer believe in them. But a change of scenery, a renewed acquaintance with a former classmate, and the bet the two strike that has them swapping genres for the summer has her trying to rebuild herself and learning to accept that, while everything might not be rainbows and kittens, those things do still exist.
“… true love had seemed like the grand prize, the one thing that could weather any storm, save you from both drudgery and fear, and writing about it had felt like the single most meaningful gift I could ever give.
And even if that part of my worldview was taking a brief sabbatical, it had to be true that sometimes, heartbroken women found their happy endings, their rain-falling, music-swelling moments of pure happiness.”
There were some laugh-out-loud funny scenes in Beach Read. Quite a few of them, actually. I can honestly say that, for the majority of the book, I was reading with a grin plastered across my face. But there was quite a bit of drama, as well. It never felt overblown, but life was far from perfect for either January or Gus, her former classmate turned romantic interest. Those imperfections made the story more believable and relatable, in my opinion. We all have our issues, right? These two are not exception to that.
“Bad things don’t dig down through your life until the pit’s so deep that nothing good will ever be big enough to make you happy again. No matter how much shit, there will always be wildflowers.”
I enjoyed Beach Read so much. Part of that enjoyment was finding the right book at the right time, but I also think I would have loved it no matter when I chose to read it. I’m buying myself a physical copy so I can shelve it next to my Nora Roberts collection, because I loved it with the same fervor I feel for Nora’s books. This is a book I definitely intend to revisit, and to revisit often. Finding a new comfort read is such a wonderful feeling. And Beach Read gave me that lovely, comfy glow.
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