Title: Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry
Publisher: Penguin Books UK
Release date: August 20th, 2020
Page count: 361
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Waterstones
Beach Read tells the story of January Andrews and Augustus “Gus” Everett. They’re both writers of two very opposite genres, literary fiction and romance, and they’re both suffering from the dreaded writer’s block. Their paths cross once January moves to the beach house next to Gus’, and after a few interactions they decide to switch genres and see if they can beat their block. January and Gus discover the marvels of the genres each other writes while also dealing with some heavy problems within their own lives, and trying to not fall in love in the process… which fails.
I’ve read my fair share of contemporary romance books this year, enough to say that this one is very different from the rest; especially for one element in particular that makes it special. Beach Read does not try to make you swoon or daydream with the main characters’ lives and relationship. Absolutely not. This book delves deep in family relationships, secrets and mistakes. It shows the scars those family secrets can leave on the parts involved. While I expected to find a swoony romance and a light-hearted plot within the pages of this book, I’m very happy and surprised to say that it showed and taught me very important things about life and love.
“The only promise you ever had in life was the one moment you were living.”
This book is mainly focused on January and Gus, so it’s necessary that I introduce you to them. January is a character I really liked and grew fond of, her personality really stands out and her narrative voice always kept me invested in the book. We get to see her trying to put the pieces of her life back together after finding out shocking things about her parents (her dad mostly), and that journey towards accepting, forgiving and moving on was pure gold. The author developed January’s inner battle with herself and the past in a very realistic and complex way.
Gus was, though her polar opposite, very similar in a certain way. Just like her, Gus is also broken and trying to find his way back to himself. I don’t want to spoil too much about him so I reveal a lot, but I really liked his character and I believe he’s as complex as January, they’re both equally good developed. He’s a witty and sarcastic man that can always make January (and the reader) smile. Their relationship in the book was amazing, funny but complex and realistic, and that was the beauty of it: it was never a fairytale, but this raw representation of what real life love is like, with its ups and downs.
“I’ve always admired that. The way your writing always makes the world seem brighter, and the people in it a little braver.”
I also really loved the part that writing had in this book. Both protagonists are authors and Beach Read talks about writer’s block, the process of making a book and the importance of getting out of your comfort zone when you’re not finding what you need being inside of it. I was able to relate to this on a personal level, being a writer on a 1-year long writer’s block. I loved to see January letting out her frustrations on her new book and knowing the reason why Gus doesn’t like happy endings.
January’s parents also deserve a special mention in this book. Without them and their story, January would’ve never experienced everything that happened in this book. I liked how the author, without the need of time jumps, wove the past and the present together and then slowly untangled January from the past to become her own better person. You cannot love nor hate January’s parents, especially her dad, and that’s what made him so brutally real. For me, it was what made the book even more valuable: their crucial part in this story.
With Beach Read I had my usual swoon-worthy contemporary romance, with fun and even steamy scenes about a couple I absolutely adored. But more than that I received a very valuable lesson on what true love is like, how nothing’s perfect in real life and the importance of forgiving and moving on, for the sake of your own happiness. The author made an incredible job with this book, and I look forward to read more by her soon.
Disclaimer: I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
That’s all for this post! Have you read Beach Read? What’s your favorite Contemporary Romance? Let’s talk in the comments!