Sigh I really don’t like giving books negative reviews but I found myself endlessly infuriated by the decisions that characters made in this novel, in a way that I think is not because of ‘unlikability’ or anything but more to do with confusing writing and pacing (and generating drama through plot holes as opposed to plot).
There’s also a bit of awkwardness with how Meltzer introduces characters and their key backstories. Rachel’s chronic disease–there are some great ways that similar character traits have been presented that make it clear that a chronic disease touches on all parts of a character’s life without making it seem like said character’s inner monologue has been ripped from the latest UpToDate guide to the disease (see: Seven Days in June or Get a Life, Chloe Brown). I felt like I was listening to Metzer’s attempts to educate us on ME/CFS and its legitimacy…maybe I’m being naïve, but I don’t think that this audience is one that dismisses women’s statements? As it were it comes off as awkward instead of teaching us something about Rachel as a character. So…actually reducing her to “just” her ME/CFS, in an attempt to show her as not being “just” her disease.
Or this: Rachel’s past as a Christmas novelist is shared by her best friend (who knows said secret) coming over and remarking, as one does when with old friends who know you backwards and forwards, “When are you going to tell your family that you’re an award winning Christmas novelist with twenty bestselling romances? And four movies?” Because I often tell my friends in very specific detail facts about their background when I am referencing said background. A better way to have done this scene would have been for Mickey (the friend) to say something normal like: “What’s the plan for telling your family about…all this, my dear?” said Mikey, waving expansively to the full row of author’s editions that Rachel had collected over the years.
The crux of the novel hinges on two points that you have to believe. One, that a summer camp romance from 18+ years ago (and a series of increasingly confusing/messy misunderstandings) can have strong, present-day consequences for two adults in their 30s who never spoke again. Two, that said two adults, now secure in well-paying (as made clear) careers, would be incapable of dealing with the normal ebbs and flows that accompany said careers.
Rachel, an author, seems flabbergasted when her publishing company asks for something different after her last few novels weren’t selling as well. My dear, what did you THINK they’d ask for??? And Jacob seems incapable of pulling together a fancy gala in NYC for Jewish and Jewish adjacent millennials with money to burn–why there are multiple billionaire investors and a week’s worth of set up ((view spoiler)) for an event where the ROI is apparently measured in…hashtag engagement? That’s not how an event company works, an investor doesn’t see value in instagram stories they see value in people buying tickets (a totally sold out event in NYC that even the organizer can’t get you tickets to? why haven’t you made back your costs??) and spending money.
The entire romance involves nothing but endless weird miscommunications which both sides beat themselves up for despite the fact that they haven’t given the other party the opportunity to react at all to the actual truth. I’m happy these two got together, but I felt like a schmuck for sitting through to the end.
[Also what man would ever be able to buy a curvy woman a perfectly fitting strapless mermaid style ball gown just after seeing her in person a few times? I’m the owner of a curvy body and I can’t even find one if I go to a store in person.]