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Batch reviews: Chick Lit

We all know that books categorized as “chick lit” get a bad rep.

They aren’t taken seriously, written off as fluff or easy reading, relegated to beach totes or justified as guilty pleasures.

But I think these books are great. Often they are about the emotional lives of women, of the struggles to find a partner, or trouble within romantic relationships, how difficult it can be to navigate life at the office, or falling out with a good friend. These books are necessary to showcase these facets of female lives!

So.

Here are some “chick lit” titles I read recently that I really enjoyed.

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

after i do

Laura and Ryan have been together for over 11 years and are sniping at each other about everything. They decide to take a break for one year, no contact and after that, re-evaluate. Laura stays in their house and starts trying to live her own life, figure out what’s important to her, talk to her friends and family about life and marriage. As time goes on, she finds it difficult to be apart from Ryan and rethinks her ideas about love and marriage.

This book packed an emotional punch I wasn’t expecting. Really quickly, you get caught up in the lives of Laura and her entire family – her sister who is starting up her own business, her younger brother who has catapulted into marriage and family at a dizzying speed, her mother who is in a new relationship. And while all this happens, Laura misses that one person she used to share all this with. After I Do was honest, and funny and when I finished it, I was sad to leave Laura et al behind.

After You by Jojo Moyes

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So I wasn’t going to read this follow up to the devastation of Me Before You. I was of the opinion that the story was complete and I wasn’t super interested in what came next. I was wrong. Louisa Clark has taken the money that Will Trainor left her and bought an apartment for herself. But she hasn’t done anything to make it hers, she works in a terrible job at an airport bar, and spends her evenings alone and tipsy, until she has a fairly serious accident of her own. In the aftermath of her own injury, Lou moves home for a bit, where everyone but her seems to be moving forward. And when an unexpected relation of Will’s shows up, Lou’s life is turned upside down again.

Moyes does a great job with this portrait of grief, of a young woman coming to grips with her new reality. Lou is taking baby steps away from Will and the life she imagined she might have, while also taking on complications from that former life. She’s never been someone that’s able to think about herself before others and this new stage in her life is challenging the belief that she doesn’t matter. If you read and loved Me Before You, don’t hesitate in reading After You.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

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After a merger brought two competing publishers together, Lucy is forced to work near Joshua. Each is the assistant to the CEO from their respective publisher and spend their days finding ways of tormenting each other. When a new restructuring creates a new role, both of them want it. Their games escalate and suddenly, Lucy starts to see Josh with new eyes.

The Hating Game is a delightful old school romantic comedy. It’s like a book of The Proposal crossed with Ten Things I Hate About You. I loved that it was set in the workplace, that Lucy has ambitions for herself but is also kind of flailing around in her personal life. I didn’t expect this little book to be quite as steamy as it was! Nice little bonus if you ask me! I totally went into The Hating Game with certain expectations and it turned out way better than I thought it would be!

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Me Before You

I finally read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

I don’t know that I will ever be able to recover from the heartbreak of that book. The last time I remember being this affected by a book was when I read Marian Keyes’ Is Anybody Out There? Did you read that one? It was the first book about the Walsh sisters that I read – Anna Walsh is recovering from all sorts of heinous injuries under the watchful eye of Mammy Walsh and she can’t get a hold of her husband Aidan. She can’t remember what happened but it’s not like them to go so long without talking. Finally she remembers what happens and why Aidan isn’t calling and she’s devastated and spends the next year of her life trying to reach him on the other side.

I was in pieces after that book.

Reading Me Before You brought on a similar sensation. I wish I had been on my own somewhere to read that and give in properly – instead I was in the car beside my other half trying to muffle the sounds of my sobs, knowing that he was looking over every so often. So embarrassing.

Anyway – the book. Louisa Clark is living a very ordinary (boring) life at home in the house she’s always lived in when she loses her job at a local cafe. Not being particularly trained for anything but reluctant to take a job as a stripper, she ends up as a kind of paid companion to Will Traynor, a quadriplegic. At first Louisa, very aware of her limited skills, pussy foots around him, checking in on him every 15 minutes as instructed by Will’s mother. Eventually though she gets tired of walking on egg shells and she starts treating him like a human being which, is exactly what Will has been missing since his accident.

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Louisa has been hired on for 6 months. Then she finds out what Will’s plans are at the end of those 6 months and she sets out to change his mind.

Obviously she also falls in love with him.

I’ve already said too much. I knew what the twist was when I was making my way through it so I guess it was fairly predictable. But the way it all unfolds was still so completely heartbreaking. I wasn’t prepared for the full range of emotions. The book is funny and captivating and so, so smart. At the end your heart will break (if you have a heart) but there is a curious sensation of hope.

I had just finished The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin, my book club’s selection, when I started Me Before You. I enjoyed The American Heiress but I think that Me Before You would almost have been a better book club book – seems like there is so much more to discuss.

Not bad for a book I initially thought of as Chick Lit.