Beach Read by Emily Henry

24 September 2020

Beach Read
Published on May 18th, 2020 by Berkley

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 haven't written a book review in ages (two years to be exact). I'm a bit rusty, so please bear with me. 

Emily Henry is a new-to-me author even though I've had a copy of The Love That Split The World sitting in my Kindle for ages. But I dived into Beach Read with very high expectations given that it's been the talk of the timeline on pretty much every social media account I own. I never even bothered to read the synopsis, except the fact that I was aware this book would be an enemies-to-lovers romance — a redemption I somewhat needed after previously reading badly written romance of the same trope (but that's for another story). 

Beach Read is definitely no beach read. 

I've read so many praises about this novel but I wasn't prepared for how many times this book tugged at my heartstrings and made me want to sit in a corner and cry. Thank goodness for being able to read in the privacy of my own home during quarantine. Beach Read is nothing like the typical feel-good romance I was expecting. Sure enough, it's got the standard tropes I've always looked for in a romance (opposites attract, enemies turned lovers, NEIGHBOURS! Imagine the sexual tension *chef's kiss*), but it also contained unconventional themes that I never thought would even be suited in a book that's supposed to make me feel smitten all over. Don't get me wrong, I was smitten, but in the most peculiar way. 

In Beach Read, Emily Henry introduces us to January and Gus, who are both disillusioned authors in their own kind of creative rut. They're also polar opposites: January is a romance author and of course, a total romantic, but a recent occurrence in her life has made her want to stop believing in love and happy-ever-afters. On the other hand, there's Gus. The literary fiction writer with a penchant for dark-themed novels that always end in character deaths. If Neil Gaiman and Chuck Palahniuk had a child, it would be Gus. These two end up in neighbouring beach houses and the next thing you know, they make a deal to swap genres and write a book over the summer. And while these two couldn't be more contradictory, their chemistry is just off-the-charts!
"I thought you understood that there's no such thing as a normal person."
January and Gus are just what I expected and so much more — these two characters did not disappoint. Emily Henry was able to bring to life a pair of charming yet perfectly flawed individuals that made me feel so much. They're deliciously raw, with the pair managing to deal with their own individual complexities together: January's family secrets and Gus' unpleasant childhood (It always boils down to childhood trauma, doesn't it?) As cliche as it may sound, it truly isn't. Henry also managed to interweave a couple of ominous and haunting themes in the novel in relation to Gus' writing career, and not once did they seem out of place. It's a skill, truly. 

Emily Henry came in like a wrecking ball with Beach Read — I expected to be floating in a cloud of fluff but instead I was swimming into the deep end, intrigued with every turn of a page. Beach Read is a story about second chances, betrayal, grief, and falling in love, all wrapped up in an unsuspecting addicting gem. This book made me laugh, made me cry, made me swoon. Once you pick it up, you'll never be able to put it down. Definitely adding this to my list of 2020 favourites!