Review | Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry.
Length: 361 pages.
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.
This book was very hard for me to read. So hard, that at first I didn’t want to admit that I enjoyed it. I deeply identified myself with the main character and what she was feeling. This has nothing to do with whether or not I’ve experienced exactly the same things she has, but because everyone has had to face difficult situations that test our resilience. This is means that we all, at some point, have felt something similar to what January does at that moment of her life.
This book centers heavily on how the main character feels, so we don’t really get to learn first-hand about her past and why she is troubled. Instead, we get her version, at that exact moment and time, which I think makes it even more powerful. When we feel so utterly devastated and beaten down, we don’t look back at moments as flashbacks, we call upon them bitterly and we overanalyze everything, trying to find the fault.
I was on a beautiful beach, in a beautiful place, and I was alone. Worse, I wasn’t sure I’d ever stop being alone again.
I think the author did a wonderful job conveying these feelings. It can be incredible hard to forgive yourself and the people you love. Ultimately, January must learn that even though life can be difficult, there is always hope. We shouldn’t live in the future, but rather the present and the joys of day-to-day life.
I was on my feet. The beautiful lies were all gone. Destroyed. And I was still upright.
On the other hand, I loved the relationship between January and Gus. I think everything was absolutely adorable, from their very first meet-cute to their very last, intentionally cliché, moment. I think it is wonderful how we got to understand each character’s objectives and, most of all, why they chose to write in their respective genres. It is very common amidst the reading/writing community to shame some genres. Personally, this really pisses me off. Every type of writing is different and comes with its own bag of challenges. It is equally difficult to write a mystery or horror book as it is to write a feel-good romance or young adult novel. In this book, there is no shaming. Both characters acknowledge the importance of both their styles and they explain why they write as they do.
“When you love someone,” he said haltingly, “… you want to make this world look different for them. To give all the ugly stuff meaning, and amplify the good. That’s what you do. For your readers. For me. You make beautiful things, because you love the world, and maybe the world doesn’t always look how it does in your books, but… I think putting them out there, that changes the world a little bit. And the world can’t afford to lose that.”
For anyone, this is a difficult book to read. Not because of its length or vocabulary or whatever… It’s hard because you live this grief along with January. Whether you’ve felt it yourself or not, you get to understand, even if only a little, how hard it is to feel so defeated. This is what makes this book so wonderful and, even if it’s not easy, you should read it.