I love this book so much. I love the story, I love the writing, I most of all love the main characters, Anna and Jess. It wasn’t an easy book for me to read, and listening was slightly easier because I already knew the story (which was a good thing as I started listening on a walk on the cliff and part of chapter 2 got lost to the wind). But the reasons why it’s not easy are also the reasons why I love it.
I’m very much like Jess in many respects (social awkwardness, that feeling that you’ve not been giving the same set of rules as everyone else at the start of the game, the mimicking when you’re not sure how to act, the not thinking well on your feet…) but my experience of closing down resembles Anna’s. Whenever the author mentions “something the old Anna would have done” or “someone from before”, it resonates with me because that’s how I speak of my life. There’s a before and a now. Until not long ago, this blog was named Not Me Anymore, and as I’ve explained before, it’s because I’m both the same person I always was and not, like Anna. I changed the name recently because it didn’t make as much sense now that 99.99% of what I post is reviews, but what it meant is still very true. It’s an interesting experience to be able to relate to both MCs, even more so to what makes them fragile.
Jess and Anna’s relationship, their falling in love, is so evident, so delicate, so delightful yet painful at times, that getting to witness it feels precious. Sometimes you meet someone in whatever circumstances and there’s an instant connection. It can be love, it can be friendship, it’s often deep and feels like fate. For someone like me, who struggles with interactions (unlike Anna, I was always like that, even in my own “before”), it’s both terrifying and elating. Clare Ashton describes it perfectly, the easiness, the immediate trust, the surprise too.
Even though I’d already loved them when I read them, some scenes sounded even better in audio. The back and forth between Jess and Anna when they’re both trying to figure out the other’s sexual orientation is hilarious, and the intimate scenes are even sexier. I have minor issues with the narration (the men’s voices aren’t very distinctive, the narrator’s slight lisp was sometimes distracting – and I say that as someone with a lisp of my own, which may have made me more sensitive to it, and I wish Anna’s voice was as melodious as Clare Ashton describes it), but nothing that stopped me from enjoying it a lot. The pace is great, the tone is too, Jess’s voice is perfect, there are nuances and subtle changes that make it lovely overall.
The only thing that could make this book better would be if I didn’t know it yet and got to read it for the first time again.