Published: August 9, 2016
Genre: Romance (Contemporary)
You might enjoy this book if you like: Second-chance romances, childhood romances, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.
Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.
That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.
The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?
If I had to sum up this book in one phrase, it would be something like "a less-YA-ish Eleanor and Park." Both books deal with teenage love and the struggles of a difficult adolescent life. This one, however, seems more adult to me.
This book is told completely from Emiline's point of view (well, except for the selections from J. Colby's book). It is common enough for romance novels to be only from the feminine point of view, but it is especially effective here. Because we only know what Emiline knows, we are carried away with Colby's novel and go through the same realizations that she does.
Emiline is a well-crafted character. We do get almost her entire life story, which is helpful. But Carlino also takes care to show us how her traumatic childhood has continued to effect her adult life. There weren't any other characters who were as developed. In any other book, this probably would be a problem. However, because of the way this novel is built around her point of view, it isn't an issue here.
Like Eleanor and Park, this is a dark-ish book, although I wouldn't say it is quite as dark as Rowell's book. Here we also get to see how the love story goes once the players are adults, which is nice (and, well, it is a romance). And, while this is a dark book, it isn't especially angsty. All in all, it was a sweet, entertaining read that I would recommend to anyone looking for a love story.
I was given an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.