Overall, this was a completely relatable book and I think Nicholls did an excellent job of portraying people (their behavior, hopes and dreams, attitudes, fears) at each stage of their lives, from their early 20s to 40s. I know this book got really mixed reviews but I think maybe since I’m almost right in the middle of those at the age of 25 I really got into it and kept thinking yes! because I’ve been having the same thoughts that Emma and Dex were having right after graduating from college. You don’t really know what the hell you’re supposed to do now and you’re terrified that you’re going to fail, but you desperately grasp onto the small bit of hope that you have of one day being happy and having a career that you love. You start to lose confidence the closer you get to 30 and begin to wonder, Holy shit, is this really it? Surely this can’t be what it’s going to be like for the rest of my life. So after reading this I’m just hoping I can gather the cojones needed to finally just take a leap of faith and go for it and try to do something I actually want to do, like Emma did with writing. The romance was also completely believable for me and I really liked how Nicholls played it out. When you’re young and you’re talking to a guy you really like, you don’t want to overdo it or seem desperate but inside you’re screaming get hold of yourself, woman! so I found those initial flirting stages between Emma and Dex sweet and nostalgic. I was just really impressed by how real the two main characters were and how plausible their lives were. I don’t like fake, froufrou stuff and this was definitely an authentic, gritty, romantic yet sobering look at life and love and growing up. So hopefully the movie version doesn’t mess it up and turn it into a romantic comedy. We’ll see.
I don’t know how to explain this, but I really enjoy books that focus on moments that are decided by fate (if that makes sense). Like if so-and-so wasn’t exactly at this spot at this moment, this wouldn’t have happened. I don’t know if there’s a technical term for that or not. Anyway, Nicholls kind of slows downs and brings our attention to those moments and it really makes you aware of how out of control of your own life can be sometimes because there are some things that you just can’t plan for. On the other hand, you can think of it as if I’d only gotten to point b one minute sooner, such-and-such would never have happened. But you can’t focus on those moments or else you’ll be living in the past forever – you just have to move on and hope it gets better. Apparently Thomas Hardy was fascinated by fate as well and some of his quotes are used at the beginning of the chapters in this book. I really want to read Far from the Madding Crowd now since it sounds like it deals with fateful moments a lot too. (If anyone knows of any other books that deal with that kind of thing, books pieced together through deciding moments of fate, please let me know!) So yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I read it in three sittings and couldn’t wait to get back to it every time I had to take a break. If you like your romances all sappy and saccharine and fake then you probably won’t like this. Also, if you’re under the age of 20 or so I’m not sure that you’d like this – you might not be quite jaded and bitter enough from life yet. That’s my theory on the 1 and 2 star ratings anyway.