I’m struggling right now with three reviews. Two of them are fantastic books that give me a lot of feelings I’m trying to translate into words. One of them is for a book that has disappointed and I’m trying to find 250 words to say “White feminism is bad.” When I get stuck like this, the best thing for me to do is to write low stakes reviews about books I enjoyed.
I listened to Cara Bastone’s Love Lines series while engaged in a major yard work marathon. I really hate yard work and it’s much easier for me to do if I’m distracting myself with a book or podcast. I’ve discovered that being in the moment while outside is not my thing. Cara Bastone has written some binge-worthy books that are well performed. I thought Call Me Maybe was cute and Sweet Talk was very much in my sweet spot.
In Call Me Maybe, Vera meets Cal when she needs technical assistance building her website for her new business. She needs the website to be up and ready in 5 days. Vera is afraid to let Cal go, convinced he will stop trying to fix her site if she hangs up. Cal hangs out on the phone with her after calling a tow truck for her when her car breaks down. The two of them click in ways that neither quite believes. In the background are Vera’s insecurities about her ability to successfully run her own business, and Cal’s insecurities about anyone finding him interesting. With the safety of anonymity, they share some of their secrets. At the end, they meet in person, with a little bit of a deus ex machina making meeting your on-line crush in real life safe. It’s a cute read.
Sweet Talk is a much heavier book. Ethan accidentally voice texts Jessie at 2 am with “You up?” Jessie thinks he’s mistakenly booty called her, but answers anyway. They start to play a game where Ethan tries to guess who Jessie is and why he has her in his contacts. Jessie knows exactly who Ethan is and has a crush on him, but a very good reason for not telling him who she is. The two start talking every night as Ethan tries to overcome his trauma induced insomnia. The reader figures out who Jessie is to Ethan long before Ethan does, but the tension comes in how he will react when he learns Jessie’s secret.
As a note, Vera and Ethan are siblings. A subplot in Call Me Maybe is the way in which their parents express love to Vera in ways that are damaging. It’s clear in Sweet Talk that the parents are also terrible to Ethan, though it’s less of an issue because he has enforced boundaries with them. A whole paper could be written about the gender dynamics between the parents and Vera vs their dynamics with Ethan. Jessie has her own parental love issues. Her father is dying of cancer and it’s clear that while they are close, he has saddled her with too many responsibilities without support. Some hard family conversations are had in both books.
I enjoyed the almost 12 hours of audio books. They were an excellent companion to weeding, finding fire ant nests, mowing, and moving dirt around.