Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
This book follows Holland. She is an aspiring writer but hasn’t found an inspiration just yet so, in the meantime, works at the theater for her uncle, who is a brilliant composer. Almost every day of the week, she takes the subway (even though she doesn’t need to) to watch a guy play. She’s developed quite the crush on him and, when the lead violinist from her uncle’s show quits, she suggest him as a replacement.
Problem arises when they find out that the guy, Calvin, is in the country illegally since his Visa expired a long time ago (he’s from Ireland). And in a burst of craziness, she marries him. That way, he gets to be on the show and she gets to help her uncle, who she loves more than anything.
Now, I don’t know how accurate the details regarding the marrying-him-will-help-him-be-in-the-show thing are. I could probably try to Google all this stuff but I’m instead going to assume either accuracy or creative licence. I need to focus on the review because there’s a rant coming and that’s already going to increase the length enough. But before that, let’s talk positives.
The beginning was really good. The book is from Holland’s perspective and initially, we were introduced to her as the kind of person who very aware of her own position. She knows that she’s privileged, that she’s pretty but not beautiful, that she’s very shy and doesn’t often take risks. She knew herself quite well and when she made the bold suggestion of marriage, it was great. I liked that even though she’s not a confident person, she was willing to do something so huge to help someone.
Also, her narrative was funny. Calvin was funny and flirty and charming. Holland’s relationship with her uncle was really sweet and I enjoyed at least the first half of the book. Then things started to go sour.
For a large part of the book, I really liked Holland. But I feel like the Holland we were introduced to wasn’t real. I felt cheated because, in reality, Holland isn’t much more than a mess of insecurities and cowardice. She liked Calvin but she was unsure if he liked her back. And instead of, you know, talking about it, she was happy to assume that he was just playing along. She even went so far as to think that he was faking feelings for her so that they could stay married. And that was when she was supposedly falling for the guy.
It really pissed me off because on one hand, you’re saying that you might be falling in love with him, and on the other hand, you’re saying you think he’s some kind of asshole who would toy with someone’s emotions for selfish reasons. And I know that’s her insecurity talking but still, did she not know him at all?
Speaking of “knowing him”, I’m still not sure if we do. Holland often complained (about a lot of things) about how she didn’t really know Calvin. And the solution would be to have a conversation, right? Except it didn’t happen. She never talked to him. I can’t even count the amount of times she thought to herself that maybe she should ask Calvin about his feelings but instead decided it was better just to assume what they were. And I’m just sitting there wanting to yell at her. How does she expect to get to know a guy if she never makes an effort. She was surprisingly self-absorbed.
But again, self-consciousness does that to a person. What’s important is that you change. Holland never did. She never made an effort to communicate with him or to sort out any problems between them. She never fought for their relationship, she never trusted him and never had any faith in the kind of person he was.
And he was a good guy. He made a few mistakes but he was nice and funny and treated her very well. He always wanted to try to talk things through but since Holland always ran away, it couldn’t happen. It was infuriating that, throughout the entire book, Holland didn’t change at all. She’s never apologized to Calvin for doubting him for no reason, nor did she give the impression of a girl who loved him. I didn’t see their relationship ever working out because I knew that, at the first sign of trouble between them, Holland would bail and it’d be up to Calvin to fix everything.
This was a very disappointing book that made me want to scream (at Holland). It didn’t feel like a romance novel, when I think about it. The lack of character development ruined all goodwill created by the fun. I think the authors were trying to write a story about a girl learning to love herself, but didn’t have the best approach.
There was potential here. The writing was good and, like I said, I really liked the first half, but I couldn’t put up with all the inner-whinings of Holland and it’s jarring every time I think about how much we don’t know about Calvin; or the very annoying best friend. I mean, we know what Holland thinks they’re like, but since she rarely had real talks with anyone, we don’t really know. And just for her alone, I can’t recommend this book. It could’ve been so great and that makes me sad (and angry). I hope I have better luck with Autoboyography.
P.S. It bothers me that Holland was just waiting for the universe to hit her with a great idea that she could turn into a book, instead of actually doing something. And that, in over three-fifty pages (and many months), I don’t remember her ever reading a book. And the events in her life are not an excuse; we could be in the middle of a literal zombie apocalypse and, between running for my life and trying not to get eaten, you can bet I’d find time to read. Hell, I’d steal a notebook to write reviews in so I could post then afterwards.