Thank you Caitlin_D for doing such a great job putting our thoughts together!
Caitlin_D: So when I started to read this book I knew immediately that you need to read it too. And then I remembered I needed someone to write a review with me!!
Badkittyuno: I love rom-coms. (Caitlin_D: we both do) In fact, one of my favorite things about my fiance is that he is 100% willing to watch silly romantic movies with me. And as a child of the 90s (and a huge Nora Ephron fan), I definitely love the trifecta of rom-coms referenced frequently in this book: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. In Waiting for Tom Hanks, Kerry Winfrey aims to put a spin on the genre with her heroine, Annie Cassidy. Annie has grown up completely obsessed with rom-coms, particularly those starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. But while Ephron’s heroines do tend towards flighty and emotional, Annie goes above and beyond in her absolute unwillingness to actually look at the world around her.
Caitlin_D: I don’t think I got angry about Annie’s stubbornness as much as you did. It felt a bit tropey that the main character couldn’t see past her own biases but what would the book have been if she had some semblance of her shit together?
Badkittyuno: It sounds like I didn’t like the book. Which is not true. I did like this book, I just didn’t like the main character very much (which is admittedly a problem).
Caitlin_D: Fair, main characters tend to be the worst part of rom-coms in my opinion.
Summary by Badkittyuno: Annie lives in an enormous house in Columbus, Ohio. After losing her father as an infant, and her mother more recently, Annie has made a life with her Dungeons & Dragons obsessed Uncle Don, and her best friend Chloe (who lives in their guest house). She visits Chloe at work at a coffee shop every day, and makes notes about Chloe’s contentious but flirty relationship with her boss, Nick. See, Annie is obsessed with rom-coms, and is working on writing her own. In fact she’s so obsessed with rom-coms that she refuses to date anyone who doesn’t fit into her checklist: must have a memorable meet-cute, must have an interesting job, houseboat would be a plus. So when movie star Drew Danforth comes to town to film a movie that Annie ends up assisting with, you’d think that their initial interaction — when she dumps coffee all over him — would satisfy that meet-cute requirement. Unfortunately, Annie’s head is so far up her own ass that she refuses to see Drew for the sweet, goofy guy that he is and decides to outright hate him — based solely on the fact that he’s a famous movie star.
Badkittyuno: I loved everyone in this book except for Annie. Drew makes for a great rom-com hero — he’s very funny, very kind, and has a sweet backstory.
Caitlin_D: Agreed. He definitely checked all the “rom-com hero” boxes set out for us by Nora Ephron, Richard Curtis and their ilk. All of his reasons for acting the way he did and getting the reputation he had reminded me a lot of Patrick Verona from 10 Things I Hate About You. Swoon for Heath Ledger.
Badkittyuno: Definitely still swooning over Heath Ledger.
Badkittyuno: Chloe is the fun and spunky best friend, and her banter with coffee shop owner Nick was adorable. I liked Winfrey’s treatment of Uncle Don and his Dungeons and Dragons friends — kinda of making fun of their geekiness while also embracing them as actual people. I even liked the outlying characters like Annie’s terrible blind date and the teenage idiot who works at the coffee shop.
Caitlin_D: I’m with you on everything except the blind date guy; that was a little too much of a “is this really all that’s out there…” trope. Especially when he made a second, incredibly unwarranted, appearance.
Badkittyuno: Sure, they were caricatures but they were entertaining and worked within the context of the novel.
Caitlin_D: Agree to disagree.
Badkittyuno: But man, Annie was the worst! While I appreciate her fondness for romantic comedies, her interactions with actual humans in real life made me angry. At one point, I texted Caitlin_D that I wished Annie would just be nice to the handsome movie star for one second!
Caitlin_D: I believe I responded along the lines of “but then what would the book be about?”
Badkittyuno: She uses her perfectly intelligent and functional uncle as an excuse not to leave home and pursue her dreams. And she treats the third guy in her inevitable love triangle like crap (even though he has a houseboat!). She holds everyone around her to ridiculous standards and then pushes them away when they don’t live up to her ideal.
Caitlin_D: Yeah, the love triangle seemed a bit shoehorned into the story for no reason other than to show that Annie is desirable and that she is only single because she doesn’t know what she wants. She has this rom-com ideal but clearly slept through the middle part of most movies.
Badkittyuno: I always love a new spin on an old favorite, and I appreciate Winfrey’s obvious love for the genre. I just wish I’d liked Annie a little more.
Caitlin_D: She wrote a follow up that focuses on Chloe. Better luck next time?