Review: Beach Read by Emily Henry

by Heather Caliendo
beach read review - book club chat
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Editorial note: I received a copy of Beach Read in exchange for a review. 

Beach Read by Emily Henry is an ideal story to start off your summer reading list!

Beach Read was selected for April’s Book of the Month. I’m so impressed with the quality of choices each month—I’m for sure a member for life. Click here to sign up and you can use the code MAY5 to get your first book for $9.99! Signing up for their service is well worth it and a big bonus, they’re still delivering books during this era. Another neat component is that BOTM will many times offer books prior to their publication dates so you can get the books early! 

I recently asked my Instagram followers which type of genres are their go-to in the summer. The responses definitely varied! Some said thrillers and others highlighted literary fiction. But the overwhelming response was women’s fiction. While I like to switch between genres each month, I definitely read much more women’s fiction in the summer. 

To me, women’s fiction is a well-crafted story that focuses on relationships, careers and figuring out what one really wants in life. Some in the genre are more serious while others fall in the romcom category. 

Beach Read features a bright cover and a fun title. But this one is actually more serious than not and has plenty of depth, which I think served the story quite well.

First the synopsis: 

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

A story about writers

January inherited the beach house from her recently deceased father and guess who’s her neighbor: Gus (Augustus) who is also her college rival. Yes, it’s a stretch that suddenly they’re neighbors but suspend the believability component on that and just roll with it. 

Being such an avid reader, I loved the concept of bringing together a literary fiction male writer with a woman who never ends her stories on a sad note. Gus, in the beginning, reminded me so much of many male writers that I know: believing literary fiction is much more important than other stories. January tries to emphasize that women’s stories are just as important as male stories and I felt myself nodding along with it! The banter between the two is very entertaining. 

So the concept is the two will switch genres and January will write a serious book with an unhappy ending while Gus will try his hand at a romance. I have to say that reading the stories they were working on wasn’t as interesting as I thought it would be. And there are long sections dedicated to research that I felt dragged. Truthfully, I don’t think I would read either of their stories. Maybe they should stay in their writing lane, ha! 

Complicated relationships 

Okay, so it’s not a spoiler to say that January and Gus fall for each other. But I think what makes this one stand apart is their journey is not easy and they both have plenty of baggage that they have to work on. It’s not simply an enemies-to-lovers romance but much more is going on there. Despite their feelings for each other, it’s not going to be smooth sailing. 

January also must come to terms with learning about her father’s secret that completely changes everything she ever knew about him. This is also a big reason of why she’s suffering from writer’s block as she’s suddenly confronted with the idea of happily-ever-after might be a myth. Or is it?

Overall, I think this is great for books clubs, which is why I selected it as a May 2020 book club pick. I was part of a Zoom book club meeting in April with other bookstagrammers who had advanced reader’s copies. It was interesting to hear everyone’s opinions—some people seemed disappointed it wasn’t a light romance while others loved it. So I’m definitely curious to hear what you all think about this! I had a couple minor issues with it, but overall, I thought this was a very well-done and entertaining read about two different writers overcoming writer’s block together. 

Check out my book club questions here

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