Wow, I have mixed feelings about this book. First off, this is not really a romance novel, I wouldn’t really consider it to be a rom-com either. A couple is not at the center of this story and this book delves deep. It’s not even a little bit fluffy. Even the humorous parts are a bit dark. I found the plot to be refreshing, but I do think you will be disappointed if you are looking for a true romance novel.
Back to my mixed feelings. On the one hand, Sonya Lalli is an incredibly gifted writer and I cannot wait to read more from her. Her descriptions, particularly the use of smell, made it so easy to get lost in the world she created. I read the first 100 pages in a flash.
On the other hand, Raina is an unlikeable heroine in many ways. I loved and related to her at the beginning of the story. I am of a similar age, and while I can’t relate to the cultural pressures Raina was facing, (though, I loved learning about them) I deeply relate to many of the other issues she was facing. I think the isolation people can feel, even when surrounded by friends and family, especially when they’re single, is expertly articulated.
If the whole story had stayed along the lines of the first half of the book, this would have been a wholehearted five stars. But as the book progresses, Raina becomes more and more selfish. Her poor decisions and downright hurtful behavior to the people who mean the most to her made me truly sad.
As I mentioned, Raina isn’t perfect, she drinks too much on a first date, judges men before she truly gets to know them, obsesses about an unhealthy relationship and lies to her friends and family. She is deeply and intrinsically human and her character resonated with me more with every misstep she took. Did I like Raina by the end of the book? Not really. Not even when she redeemed herself. But I don’t think you need to like the main character of a book to appreciate the emotions it invokes.
I understand why this book is so polarizing, but because of Lalli’s writing alone, I couldn’t dislike it. I wanted to talk about this novel with random people on the street as soon as I finished. Whether they loved it or hated it, this book will elicit a response from readers.
Overall, if you’re looking for a romance novel, this book isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a comfortable read, this book isn’t for you. If you’re looking for an interesting and thought-provoking novel with a completely flawed heroine at the forefront, give this book a try.
**I received an ARC of this book in order to provide an honest review**
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