Monday, September 14, 2020

Book Review | JUST LIKE YOU by Nick Hornby

JUST LIKE YOU by Nick Hornby
Publication: September 29, 2020
Publisher: Riverhead
Genre: Women’s Fiction/ Romance
Rating: ★★★½

This warm, wise, highly entertaining twenty-first-century love story is about what happens when the person who makes you happiest is someone you never expected.

Lucy used to handle her adult romantic life according to the script she'd been handed. She met a guy just like herself: same age, same background, same hopes, and dreams; they got married and started a family. Too bad he made her miserable. Now, two decades later, she's a nearly-divorced, forty-one-year-old schoolteacher with two school-aged sons, and there is no script anymore. So when she meets Joseph, she isn't exactly looking for love--she's more in the market for a babysitter. Joseph is twenty-two, living at home with his mother, and working several jobs, including the butcher counter where he and Lucy meet. It's not a match anyone one could have predicted. He's of a different class, a different culture, and a different generation. But sometimes it turns out that the person who can make you happiest is the one you least expect, though it can take some maneuvering to see it through.

Just Like You is a brilliantly observed, tender, but also a brutally funny new novel that gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person--someone you didn't see coming. -Publisher

I appreciate Nick Hornby's novels because he attempts to capture the typical, yet liberal, affairs ordinary people find themselves in. In his latest, an interracial, intergenerational relationship happens between a 42-year-old white English teacher and a 22-year-old black babysitter, with the Brexit as its backdrop. Lucy, recently divorced from her alcoholic husband, braved dating once again. Joseph gladly took up babysitting Lucy's two young sons while she dines and wines out. The boys hit it off instantly with their love for soccer. The fact is, almost as promptly as Lucy and Joseph fell for each other. Yet, no matter how easy it is to exist in the bubble of their newly found love, outside influences persist –race, age, Brexit.

Society is obsessed and critical with the age gap in relationships. Certain studies found that partners with more than a ten-year gap in age usually experience public censure. With humor, Hornby managed to explore the challenges and difficulties that Lucy and Joseph’s relationship undertook. Although their arguments at times felt mundane or contrived, it is interesting to see how these characters comprehended themselves through their interaction with each other and with the outside world. And as complications occur, Lucy and Joseph’s relationship starts to fizzle out at the edges. So is my interest in the narrative. I find myself seeking more from this romance.

Then again, JUST LIKE YOU may not be simply about the excitement of romance. Maybe, it is more about partners (lovers) with opposing opinions (on love, family, or politics), based on their racial identity, class, and stage of development. If whether people are willing to keep or break a relationship based on those opinions. Also, will people allow (or not) society to dictate their definition of a relationship?

JUST LIKE YOU is coming on September 29. You can preorder your copies now.


About the Author:

Photo by Parisa Taghizadeh
Nick Hornby is the author of several internationally bestselling novels including High Fidelity, About a Boy, and A Long Way Down, as well as several works of nonfiction, including Fever Pitch, Songbook, and Ten Years in the Tub. He has written screenplay adaptions of Lynn Barber’s An Education, which was nominated for an Academy Award, Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. He lives in London.

*Thanks to Riverhead Books for the uncorrected galley in exchange for this unbiased review. *This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


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