Just Like You
Author: Nick Hornby
Publishing Company: Riverhead Books
Release Date: September 29th 2020
*Thank you to NetGalley and the author for this ARC in exchange for an honest review*
Lucy used to handle her adult romantic life according to the script she’d been handed. She met a guy just like herself: same age, same background, same hopes and dreams; they got married and started a family. Too bad he made her miserable. Now, two decades later, she’s a nearly-divorced, forty-one-year-old schoolteacher with two school-aged sons, and there is no script anymore. So when she meets Joseph, she isn’t exactly looking for love–she’s more in the market for a babysitter. Joseph is twenty-two, living at home with his mother, and working several jobs, including the butcher counter where he and Lucy meet. It’s not a match anyone one could have predicted. He’s of a different class, a different culture, and a different generation. But sometimes it turns out that the person who can make you happiest is the one you least expect, though it can take some manoeuvring to see it through.
What I Liked
I’ve never read any of Nick Hornby’s novels, so when I got approved for the arc on NetGalley I was so excited! It’s a very clever, funny and charming novel that I enjoyed the majority of the time. For some reason, finishing this book took me a lot longer than usual, someone on twitter replied to me to say that I am probably just taking it all in and enjoying it rather than just reading to get it finished. I really believe this is true in some aspects as it is more than just a love story, there is a whole other side to this book which explores racial and political issues as well.
There were a few things about the book that I personally didn’t like, but we will get on to them later!
Lucy, a white 41-year-old, almost divorced mother of two boys meets Joseph, a black 22-year-old man, part-time butcher, babysitter, sports coach and aspiring D.J. It’s a typical boy meets girl and they meet and fall in love. The only problem is the 20 year age gap, or it’s only a problem if they make it one.
I really love both Lucy and Joseph’s characters because they are so different from one another. But, I found I felt a more wholesome feeling towards them more than relating to them just because no matter what obstacle was thrown at them, they always tried to move past it. And I just loved that.
I definitely preferred Joseph throughout the book as I loved his sense of humour and his attitude to life in general. He is very much a “go with the flow” character. He isn’t bothered that he is young and doesn’t know a lot about the adult world properly yet. I also love how supportive and caring Lucy is to Joseph and how she really appreciates the time he spends with her sons. Although, I feel like her story wasn’t as developed as Joseph’s. A lot of things seemed to get introduced, for example, her ex-husband and I don’t ever remember finding out what happened to him.
Like I said before the main storyline is the romance that happens between Joseph and Lucy. I thought the age gap would make me a bit uncomfortable, but it’s nice to see relationships like this just happen without any warning. As the story says, those people are the ones that make you the happiest which I can really relate to. I bet you’re wondering how a 42-year-old and a 22-year-old got together? Well, Joseph was the babysitter for Lucy’s kids. After several nights of babysitting, they ignited the spark that appeared between them. I still think this is a clever way to emphasise to the reader that Joseph is a lot younger than Lucy.
As the book is set in Britain, 2016, we have the great pleasure to relive Brexit. I’m not a fan of politics, especially reading about it when my sole purpose of reading is to escape reality. If you too are not a fan of politics, I would love to tell you that it’s just a small part of the book, but it’s not. I completely understand why it has to be a running theme throughout because it’s such a huge political event that is still ongoing. I did try and push my distaste of politics aside and still ended up enjoying the book. However, if you have strong opinions about the referendum, especially if you voted to leave, it may be a bit troublesome for you to read as I feel it is very pro-remain.
One thing that I think is very well written and an obvious theme overall is an interracial relationship between Joseph and Lucy. What I love about Hornby’s take on this, is the minor things that people say in everyday conversations that could be deemed offensive. In Joseph and Lucy’s case they’re able to talk about their cultural differences and resolve the conflict that was once there.
Overall, I did enjoy reading about and rooting for Joseph’s and Lucy’s relationship and how they got over being embarrassed by each other. It would have been good to warn the readers about all the political talk throughout the book so they aren’t as surprised as I was. But, if you’re someone who enjoys romance and doesn’t mind reading about Brexit, then I would highly recommend this book to you!
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