Truly Wanted – J.J. Hale

On a backdrop of book pages, an iPad with the cover of Truly Wanted by J.J. Hale, next to a few LEGO bricks and figures. At the bottom of the image, on the left-hand side, a strip of torn paper with a quote: "Truly Wanted is a solid debut novel" and a url: judeinthestars.com

Brooke and Sam have been friends for ten years, ever since Brooke invited Sam to join a group project in college. It took a while for Sam to let Brooke in but from then on, they’ve been best friends. Inseparable. Even more so after Brooke’s husband died. So where does this sudden mutual attraction come from? And can they really manage to act on it and keep their friendship intact? As if that wasn’t enough to navigate, Sam, who grew up in foster care, has to face hard questions concerning her biological family.

Truly Wanted is a solid debut novel, with relatable characters, a good plot, and a really sweet child. I wish there had been slightly more about Sam’s ADHD and rejection sensitive dysphoria. I understand not wanting the character to be entirely defined by being neurodivergent, but I would have liked to know a bit more about how Sam thinks, not just about how it has affected her life.

This novel is relatively short, with a nice pace, despite a few repetitions here and there. Some chapters, especially at the beginning, are more tell than show, which is a classic issue with debut novels. It gets better after the exposition is set, so if you’re not hooked from the start, be patient. The tension between the main characters is well-written, the lack of communication is just frustrating enough but not overdone, and the chemistry is real. 3.5⭐️

4-stars

Truly Wanted @ Bookshop.org / IndieBound / Book Depository / Books-A-Million / amazon

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