By Nate Fox and Faith Taylor
Sports Editor and Staff Writer
“Sometimes, life is very hard,” Emily Henry wrote. “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.”
“Beach Read” by Emily Henry was published in 2020 and rose to popularity when TikTok started the #booktok trend.
A contemporary romance set in lakeside North Bear Shores, Michigan, January Andrews is a romance author experiencing writer’s block. Her writing career has always been about writing love stories, that is, until her breakup with her boyfriend, Jacques. Ultimately forced to move into her recently deceased father’s lakeside home, she finds it inhabited... by her father’s mistress.
The knowledge of her father’s affair leaves her with a confused outlook on love. Without many options, she moves into the inherited home. Later she finds out her new neighbor is her college rival, Augustus ‘Gus’ Everett.
Gus is also a writer, but he writes dark fiction: the types of stories that rarely contain positive conclusions. Oddly enough, Gus is struggling with writer’s block, as well. They ultimately make a deal to swap literary genres and start spending time together as a result. January takes Gus on dates, teaching him the fine details of romance. Conversely, Gus exposes January to experiences which elicit strong emotional responses.
They are both pushed out of their comfort zones.
During one such experience, Gus takes January to meet a woman whose daughter died while in a cult. The experience with this poor woman’s mother leads to a cathartic response felt by both protagonists. Throughout this experience, Gus and January become incredibly vulnerable with one another. They begin learning and revealing more and more intimate knowledge about each other.
This book strikes a successful balance between titillating romance and impressive character development. Gus and January form a deep, meaningful relationship and begin freely communicating with one another. Their differences begin to draw them together, not push them apart.
Often, romance novels can either come across as too cheesy or underwhelming. That is not the case with “Beach Read.” On the contrary, this book achieves an impressive literary balance, while remaining engaging and avoiding common romance novel cliches.
With a strong theme of self discovery, this book brings to mind the popular adage, “Know thyself.” Emotional explorations of the self allow individuals to be fully known and fully loved, leading to an intense romance.
Going into this, I was skeptical. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself unable to put this book down. The TikTok hype was not unwarranted. Check out “Beach Read” today, you won’t regret it.
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