The back cover of this ARC is basically full of endorsements like, "OMG A MAN WROTE WOMEN RIGHT" etc. It told me very little about what to expect the actual content of the book to be and to be honest these endorsements were a bit of a turn-off because I don't want to read a book solely because the general consensus is that a man convincingly wrote women, but rather because, you know, it's good. Also, it shouldn't really be such a surprise. The whole "can men write women" and vice versa is a somewhat interesting discussion especially because it seems to differ from how they are written on TV vs. books. (like chances are lotsa men are writing your fave females on TV) I read a really fascinating piece about how men actually write better female characters than women from in theatre because women tend to write reactive characters. This was SO enlightening to me and made so much sense in how each gender is trained to see themselves. Even so, though, that very truth might create a barrier in writing across gender...it's not so much that men and women are from different planets, we've just been taught to think of ourselves that way. Also clearly lots of men write female characters I think the reason it was made into such a big deal is because this book is being marketed towards women as women's fiction or something.
So basically I'm writing about this book as an excuse to talk about that. Just kidding. I really enjoyed this book and even cried a little! The first part introduces us to our three main characters which are three women in different life stages (Katherine, Brooke, Samantha). Each section is told from first person point of view and alternates though not in a perfect pattern. Basically if one character says something like, "I never imagined this would happen" you actually have to sit through two sections of each of the other characters or something before you get back to it! This part was enjoyable, but I did start to wonder where it was all going. Like I said I read nothing about the book beforehand, so when I hit the second section I was surprised. I expected more humorous intertwining stories like Jill Mansell or something, but that's not what I got and it's okay.
The characters meet via an online forum and admittedly that made me more interested in the book. I like it when books allow modern technology to be a part of things. I've met a lot of friends over the years online first (often then in real life!) in various different ways. It's a natural way to meet people now! Anyway, they have something in common and meet this way, but I looooooved this part where Brooke is saying she plans to meet Samantha and something about how meeting people online makes relationships kind of strange because you can imagine them anyway you want like characters in a book or something. But they are real people. Oh my god I loved this. I feel like sometimes there's this sort of attitude that stuff that happens online...friends, etc. is somehow less real and less important than stuff that happens in real life. Now I don't mean to say that having a friendship with someone online is the exact same as having one in real life. Obviously this issue is complicated and nothing is that simple. (ha this is one of my favorite topics, have you noticed?) but I feel like because of distance, lack of accountability, etc. there's a tendency to deprioritize, to treat online stuff as somehow less real. But how is it less real? Everyone involved are real thinking feeling human beings. It's still real, just different. And while stuff like Catfish certainly doesn't help my point, I loved Brooke's determination to know who Samantha really was and not just live with an idea of who she was. It was especially interesting because Samantha wrote these long heartfelt emails to Brooke and Brooke would respond with like...one line. LOL KNOW HOW THAT FEELS GIRL. I just enjoyed how Samantha read Brooke's writing and was drawn to her in that way you feel like you know someone and must respond and then interacting with Brooke herself revealed more about who Brooke was. Just A+ on the depiction of fledgling online friendships.
I also like that each woman chooses a different path and that choice is well explained even if they don't understand each other. You'll get what I mean when you read the book! It really made me think differently since I was sort of judging one of the characters myself and then her explanation made heaps of sense to me at the end.
Basically this was an easy page turning read that made me think about a few different things. It's ultimately quite hopeful!
If I had one gripe it would be that Samantha was almost too perfect. But to be honest, this isn't the sort of book I want to complain about, I just enjoyed it and it was fun and heartwarming!
Things You Might Want to Know: profanity and sex
Publisher: William Morrow
Source of Book: ARC received from publisher