“I thought – think it’s brave to believe in love. I mean, the lasting kind. To try for that, even knowing it can hurt you.”
This story follows a woman named January.
January once had the perfect life. A loving, whole family. A fantastically spontaneous boyfriend. A flat in New York and her dream career as a bestselling romance author.
Life was perfect because January chose to believe it. She chose to see her life as a story. That no matter what happened, love would conquer all and she would live Happily Ever After.
“If you think the story has a sad ending, it’s because it’s not over yet.”
In one year everything changed.
Her father passed away, and his death revealed that he had cheated on her mother. She lost her boyfriend, her flat and she can’t seem to write the next big love story the publisher wants from her.
She moves to a new town, next door to a man called Gus.
Augustus Everett, a literary fiction writer who just so happens to be her arch nemesis from college – and on the bestsellers list.
Gus and January make a deal. A bet to see if they could write each others genre and see who gets published first.
Have you ever read a book at a time in your life where you needed it most? Somehow, against all odds, you pick up this random book, any random book, and it relates to your own life almost perfectly in that moment?
While I have never viewed my life as a story that deserves a happily ever after, there are things in my life that I took for granted would always remain facts. As it happens I share a key event with the main character of this book.
I’m grateful that my family have never gone through serious illness, like January’s mother. And I am so grateful that I haven’t lost my father like she did. The fact remains, her father cheated on her mother – and this is where I understand January’s emotions so completely. Because neither of us thought our fathers could do something like that.
I think I actually teared up when she talked about her dad. How she was so proud to be his daughter. She shared that they had similarities which she’d always prided herself on, because she was so proud of him. But since the news came out, she was scared of what those similarities could actually mean in the long run. She still loved her dad, but she was angry with him. Hurt.
I understood these feelings all too well. It was like having someone look inside my head and pull out all the thoughts and feelings I’d had over the past few months.
January’s life fell apart in one year. I wouldn’t say my life has fallen apart, but the past two years have been the most difficult I’ve endured so far and there’s sadly no signs that’s going to ease anytime soon.
“Sometimes life is very hard. Sometimes it demands so much of you that you start losing pieces of yourself as you stretch out to give what the world wants to take.”
This wasn’t the only reason I loved Beach Read though.
I loved the blossoming friendship and romance between January and Augustus. I loved how, even though their instincts told them to hold back they eventually always came clean and were honest with the other about how they felt.
The writing elements in this book may have inspired me to write again myself. I’ve had little interest over the past few months. I stopped when I was told the news. But reading about characters so inspired, and what made them inspired. Watching them write through the grit and hurt – the good times and the bad. January needed a different genre to get the words flowing again, I’m not sure what I need but I’m suddenly itching to put words onto the page again.
I love how the book wasn’t about a Happily Ever After. It was about healing, for both characters. About learning to trust again.
I also cannot express how much I adored January’s friendship with Shadi. On the face of it, this may seem confusing. Shadi pops up randomly, usually by phone. But I love their friendship because it’s so solid. It doesn’t need calls, texts or communication every day. They have a solid foundation and, at the end of the day, if either of them need the other they are there in a heartbeat. It reminds me of so many of my own friendships which I hold so dearly.
There is a moment which made me tear up between these to friends because I feel like it expresses so clearly how you can fall in love with your friends, without the aspect of romance.
I’ve spoken a lot about my own life and feelings in regards to this book, but it’s difficult to express how much this book spoke to me without divulging some of those details.
This is so much like a typical love story but very much not at the same time. It has all the elements of one. And I mean all the elements, down to the borderline cliché but I can’t bring myself to care. It almost has this self-awareness about it that other stories typically don’t have and I enjoyed that.
I enjoyed all of it.
“When I watch you sleep,” he said shakily, “I feel overwhelmed that you exist.”