In many ways, I think this felt as relatable for me as it was anti-climactic, and for the same reason. Nina Hill is not me (she has her shit way more together than I do, and she’s kind of a badass in the right setting, whereas I have never been and never will be described that way), but we have A LOT of things in common, for instance not being flexible in our schedules (I, too, highly value my scheduled times of doing “nothing”), liking to be alone, and reading books is both of our favorite things to do. We also both really do not like the idea of trying to fit more people, let alone romantic ones, into our lives. The problem here is that my life would absolutely not make for an interesting book.
The inciting incident of this book is a good one. Nina was literally raised by her nanny Louise while her mother traveled the world, basically only a guest actor in Nina’s life. Her mother never told her who her father is, but now she knows he was a lawyer who lived in L.A. just like Nina, and he has died and left her something in his will. She also finds out she has a large extended family, as her father was married three times, and had children with each of his wives. Her oldest sibling is fifty-nine, and her youngest is ten. Suddenly, Nina has a family, which is a new experience for someone who has always been (and preferred to be) alone.
My problem here is that Nina is incredibly functional, so there wasn’t really all that much conflict, despite the premise. She has a job she loves, and which she is very good at. She dates and has sex (although not in a while at the time we meet her). She has a lovely, close group of friends, and she likes people. She has a cat, and loves other people’s animals as well. She loves her boss and her co-workers. She supposedly has anxiety, but we don’t see very much evidence of it, other than the beginning of a couple of panic attacks that are staved off pretty easily, and one full-blown one that occurs at a pivotal moment. When she meets her new family, they are lovely and she has a surprisingly easy time of it getting to know them. There is a very low level of conflict throughout, but never anything that digs into your gut. I’m finding this hard to explain. The rewards of the ending (which was very cute) were less satisfying because Nina didn’t have to struggle as much a I apparently thought she should.
I’m focusing on the negative here, but I really was charmed by this book. I liked Nina. I liked her friends, and her job. I liked her family members, and how her non-relationship with her father turned out. There was a lot of fun friendship scenes, and her relationship with her trivia nemesis, Tom, was very cute. The whole book was cute.
If you’re in the mood for something nerdy, bookish, and low-stakes, this is the book for you. Maybe that’s perfect for you what with everything going on right now. But if it had just a little bit more oomph for me, I would probably have shelled out that fifth star.
(Thanks to teresaelectro for this book in our last book exchange!)