Happy New Year! I decided that in this new year I am going to aim to write a weekly roundup post every Sunday. With that being said I also want to do random posts throughout the week when I feel inspired, or the Instagram word count feels too restricting for me to properly convey all of my thoughts in an instance like with this book.
This is my first Rachel Lynn Solomon book and honestly, I can’t even begin to describe all of the emotions it made me feel. Starting from the dedication page where it states “For anyone searching for the light in the dark you deserve a good thing.” To the letter to the reader where the author not only talks about their personal journey and connection to the story but also how the protagonist’s journey with mental health is not a starting point but rather something, they have worked to maintain. To the resources listed and reminders to be gentle with yourself while reading, to just the story itself- this truly is something special.
I am someone who doesn’t typically relate my reads to music but I couldn’t help but relate this book to a couple of Taylor Swift’s songs. But one in particular really stood out to me so I thought it would be fun to include it here!
Champagne Problems: More specifically this line from Champagne problems reminded me of when Ari was talking about the engagement and how she never really felt as though she could be her true self “She would’ve made such a lovely bride what a shame she’s fucked in her head, ” It’s funny (not in a haha) way but more so in an ironic way that this is a line that has always stuck out to me because I have felt like I relate to it in an what a shame you don’t measure up sort of way because you could have had so much potential. So when I saw Ari express it in her own way I just knew that while they were different experiences I also saw a parallel between this song, this book, and my own self-doubting thoughts.
As someone who has an ongoing relationship with my mental health, there was a lot of myself that I saw in Ari. I have talked to connecting to other characters that struggle in the past so it was nice to start the new year with a reminder that no matter the seasons, or no matter the storms in your life, they will pass. I think this kind of representation is so helpful in normalizing issues that have been previously ignored. There is such a stigma around mental health as though it is a weakness or something to be hidden- and while there are days where it certainly would be easier if everything was rainbows and sunshine, I think that the days that are gloomier help us appreciate that sunnier day that much more. This kind of representation especially makes me happy because especially to readers like me where reading is such a personal journey, I would’ve loved to have grown up with characters like Ari who are unconventional in certain ways because I would’ve felt less isolated or different for having many of the same quirks. I also really appreciated the open conversation in regards to treatment, and just the fact that there are going to be inevitable setbacks or bad days no matter what’s going on in your life. I think that there is again a stigma against medication but as the book even mentions medication and treatment have evolved so much and should be seen as tools to help because being a human is frankly hard.
I also appreciated this whole idea of relationships in this story and the author’s approach to the main character’s feelings in regards to whether or not we should show our full selves to people we are dating or even tell them we struggle with mental illness. I think that this is a very real struggle that even I have felt before. I mean don’t get me wrong I can see how this might not help the stigma around mental health as it is in your own way being ashamed and acting as though it is something to hide- but it also in ways feels like by letting someone else know what you are dealing with they might view you differently or not want to be around you as much in fear you will bring them down, or stress them out. It is in a lot of ways also a struggle I identify with because it’s like my rational brain knows a lot of the more negative thoughts or even anxious thoughts I have are non-issues but then when I am in a spiral or am currently weathering my own version of story rationality goes out the window and my brain still gets flooded. Or this idea of getting out or distancing yourself before the other person can hurt you or decide they can’t deal with it. It is these sort of defense mechanisms that the author included where I not only felt like I could relate- but it also made me feel less different because in my head whenever a character acts or thinks in a similar manner it brings me some sort of comfort because even if they might not be real the author who is writing them is and know what its like either from personal or learned experience.
I also wanted to touch very briefly on the acknowledgement of male insecurities. I feel like a lot of times there is this sort of expectation for males in real life and also in stories to have almost a toxic level of masculinity. Whether it be in the way that they aren’t allowed to show emotions, need validation, or be insecure about something physical or mental. I appreciated the fact that in this story while there were still characters who weren’t the best personality wise- for the most part the characters especially the men openly talked about therapy. I also appreciated body insecurities from a males perspective. I just think body positivity should be gender less just like most other human experiences, insecurities and emotions so I really appreciated it. I think it’s sometimes easy to categorized shared experiences based on stereotypes or genders, so I’m very glad the author decided to touch on this in a positive and healthy way.
I don’t want to give too much away- but I also loved the happier parts of this story. Believe it or not from this blog post there were a lot of them. I am someone who has read their fair share of smut, but I think it just feels so much different when stories actually have a foundation to build off of. I truly feel as though it becomes so much easier to “root” for the characters or their love story. While the relationships both romantic, platonic, and familial in this book were complicated I appreciated that it didn’t feel as though the author was unnecessarily making them so. They all felt very real to me and I was actually pleasantly surprised. Even when it came to the romantic relationships there were so many instances where I appreciated the author allowing the characters to communicate and not create a bunch of side issues for the sake of complicating the story even further. I also honestly just loved them as separate characters but more so who they were together.
As I am sure you can tell from by the length of this post- I just loved this story. There were multiple times where I would check the percentage I had left in the story because I was sad the more I read meant the sooner I would have to say goodbye to these characters. I have mentioned this before but I am not the most emotional reader yet this book had me feeling ALL the feelings. It’s not often I wish to remain in stories- I usually tend to be ready as books come to a close and want to move on to the next but this one was special. I truly think that author did an excellent job of turning a story that is so personal to her and sharing it with readers so they can see that a lot of the things we try to hide or shame ourselves for our shared experiences and its okay to not always be sunshine on our bad days.
All in all, I am very thankful to Netgalley and Berkley for allowing me to read this early. There are just certain books that stay with me and I think this will be one of those. I will definitely be getting myself a physical copy of this book because it deserves a permanent spot on my shelves- Also because in all honestly, I think it will be a comfort for me when I am feeling a little like Ari on her off days. This book comes out January 11th, 2022 and I highly recommend:)
I am not officially cutting myself off because I know I have been rambling forever- but if you want to see another more concise version of this review check out my Bookstagram @ReadandRamble. If you plan on reading and want to discuss I would also love to hear your thoughts!! Talk soon🥰