Title: The Falling In Love Montage
Author: Ciara Smyth
Release date: June 9th, 2020
Page count: 368
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQIA
Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Book Depository | Kobo | IndieBound
First of all, thank you to the author and publisher for providing me with a free eARC of this book in exchange of an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.
This book… where do I start? Without a doubt, The Falling In Love Montage has been one of the best contemporary books I’ve read this year. Sassy and fun, with an interesting intake in romance movies but also featuring important topics that play a big part on the plot, this book will make you laugh and cry from page one until the ending.
“See, the thing about the falling in love montage,” she said, her voice hoarse, “it’s that when it’s over, the characters have fallen in love.”
TFILM draws you in from its very first pages, and it’s definitely because of its main character, Saoirse Clarke. I loved her from the beginning: she’s relatable, funny and witty, and you can easily understand her worries and struggles from the get go. I was always laughing at the things she thought or said. We also have Ruby, which is going to be the girl Saoirse falls for after a dramatic break up with her exgirlfriend Hannah. Ruby and Saoirse have such a cute and comedic dynamic, and they both decide that if their relationship isn’t going to be a serious one, they might as well make it fun by imitating all those cheesy things that you see on rom-com movies.
The experience of reading this book was similar to watch a romance movie for the summer, actually. This book has many rom-com references that add a fresh touch to the story, and I loved how the characters commented on each movie as they went. It really brings a smile to your face, especially if you’ve watched the movies and understand the references. We don’t only get an amazing rom-com as the book itself is, but we also get to see the character’s intake in the rom-com movies we’ve seen our whole lives.
I found myself immersed in this world, and I blame it on the author’s excellent ability to bring to life these fun situations the characters get themselves into. All those fun scenes were amazing to bring out the character’s personalities and add to their developments. But don’t fool yourself, because not everything is fun and games, and soon things start to get complicated for our main couple. Here is where the mental illness topic starts to play its part.
“I’m waiting for the day my brain catches fire. A spark that will slowly burn everything important to ash.”
I’m such a fan of contemporary romance books but seeing books from the genre that also explore sensitive topics immediately makes me want to read them. Since the start of the book, it’s very clear that Saoirse’s family has been deeply affected because of her mom’s illness: she has early onset dementia and now lives in care home. The mental illness topic was handled in a realistic and respectful way, we see everything go through Saoirse’s eyes and discover how her mom’s illness has affected her emotionally, taking a toll on her relationships with family, friends and love interests. But even with herself. By having the possibility of getting the illness, she has the feeling that nothing matters if someday she’ll forget about everything.
With Ruby, we get to see a miscommunication issue that slowly becomes more evident. There’s a lot of going back and for between wanting to have a serious relationship but holding back because of what the future may hold. Despite all the drama surrounding miscommunication in books, this time it has handled accordingly and the author built a solid background story for this situation, and made me spend the whole book wondering how this was going to blow up in the character’s faces.
Now, Saoirse’s issues with her dad are way more serious. There’s a lot of resentment and things left unsaid, but also fear of abandon. That said, it’s a very interesting intake in dysfunctional families and the hard decisions people have to make for their loved ones and themselves. It’s a very sensitive and emotional topic, but it’s a wakeup call to real life situations and remind us that out there people are going through something similar, giving us a little insight in how something like that might be.
“Sometimes the best feelings in the world don’t last forever. They’re explosions in the body or the heart or both at once, and you know that you’ll never be the same as before, but it’s OK because you can always build something new from the wreckage.”
To sum it up, this is a book that will leave its mark on you. Not only is the perfect summer read with all the rom-com references you need and a swoon-worthy romance, but it’ll leave you thinking after you close the book. It’ll give you an insight in topics that need more visibility. I’m so glad I gave it a try, and you should too!
Ciara Smyth is a social work student by day, writer by night and cat enthusiast 24/7.
Her first YA novel – about memory, rom-coms and girls who like girls – will be published in Summer 2020 by Andersen Press in the UK and HarperCollins in the US.
She previously worked as a teacher and mental health trainer. She enjoys jigging (verb: to complete a jigsaw) and claims to enjoy yoga in order to cultivate a zen persona that is shattered approximately ten minutes after you meet her.
She is from the south of Ireland but has lived in Belfast for so long that her parents make fun of her Northern accent.
That’s all for this post? Have you read this book? What is your favorite Queer contemporary book? Let me know in the comments!