Beach Read

- Emily Henry


A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.



I have a fatal flaw.


The first half of this book promises something that the second half just doesn’t deliver. It’s like the author took Gus and January’s bet seriously and decided to meld two different narratives together. The first half is complex and emotional with affairs and secrets and cults, and then… it’s a rom-com. And not a particularly good one.

January takes the revelation that her parent’s love story isn’t all sunshine and rainbows to heart. I mean, I know she’s this super positive, happily-ever-after-addicted romance writer, but it’s a little strange how seriously she takes this surprise. Of course, there’s grief and other things all rolled up in there, but it’s still a bit much. Regardless, at least there’s some depth and reasoning behind her actions. Once she hooks up with Gus, though, it’s like she has a personality change. She becomes this clingy, self-destructive character who jumps to conclusions and assumes that Gus should be able to read her mind. At least three times, January spirals into a complete mess, and Gus has to comfort her and reassure her that this very new, undefined relationship means something. It’s so repetitive and soul-crushing and left me wondering what happened to the first half of the book that promised so much more.

There are so many hints towards Gus’ past – a much more traumatic and rich history than January’s depression over her parents’ love story not being perfect – but it’s all brushed over in favour of January. And I get it, she’s our POV and protagonist, but the way she acts throughout the whole second half really makes you wish she wasn’t.

I’m also a little upset that we spent so much time talking about this bet and these books Gus and January are writing, but the whole act is dropped so quickly. After a few weeks, the ‘lessons’ are dropped, the writer’s block seems to disappear as soon as it’s not an interesting plot point, and the books (wildly outside their usual genres) are sold with little to no discussion or detail.

Four stars for the first half, two stars for the second half, so three stars overall. And even that feels generous considering the feeling you’re left with after finishing Beach Read.



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