Staff Review – Beach Read by Emily Henry

After reading Jennette McCurdy’s fantastic but heartbreaking memoir, I knew I wanted my next read to be something fun, light and easy to get through. For this task, I decided to turn to one of my new favourite authors: Emily Henry. Her new book comes out soon, so I thought this was the perfect time for me to read another of her books I hadn’t yet discovered! “Beach Read” follows two authors, January Andrews and Augustus Everett. They are college rivals and total opposites in terms of what they like to write; Gus likes dark and serious stories, while January writes romances filled with “happily ever afters”. Both in a bit of a rut (and dealing with their own personal struggles), they decide to make a deal – switch writing styles for the summer and see if the change sparks something new. They also agree to take each other on research adventures – everything from interviews with death cult family members to rom-com worthy scenarios. It’s definitely a fool-proof plan to write a fantastic book and not to fall in love, right?

The main character January is struggling with a lot – her father passed away last year, which is when she discovered he has a second home with a second woman. January now lives in this beach house (as she tries to sell it), only to discover her new neighbour is the one and only Gus. Even though January’s life has been turned upside down, she has a strong sense of self that I really admired. Even though she doesn’t seem to always want to be a hopeless romantic, she can’t help it – reading romance novels is what helped her get through her mother’s cancer battle twice over. Gus has his own backstory that is revealed as the book goes along, and I really enjoyed getting to know him while January does the same. The side characters, including Pete, Maggie, Shadi and Sonya were also great to see, and I really enjoyed seeing how these characters stories intertwined together.

This book was exactly what I needed to read! Looking for something light and uplifting, Emily Henry was definitely the way to go. She has easily become one of my new favourite authors (so I’m very happy her new book comes out soon!). The ease with which Henry writes her characters – their backstories, their banter – has quickly become a comfort to me. Henry’s characters are always struggling with more than they let on, which I think is something most readers can relate to. Aren’t we all trying to put our best face forward and not left others know what we’re struggling with – especially when those “others” include our college rival who we secretly have lusted after in the past? Henry writes her with honesty and ease, making their interactions and storylines effortless. Even through the angst (what’s a romance novel without angst?), I still eagerly turned page after page. I rooted for these characters from early on, hoping for happiness in their fictional lives. If you’re looking for something fun, flirty and full of the ups and downs of life, pick up Emily Henry’s Beach Read today!