Title: In Real Life
Author: Jessica Love
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.
There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.
Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.
Hannah’s romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick’s girlfriend, whom he failed to mention. And it turns out his relationship status isn’t the only thing he’s been lying to her about. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.
Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!
I loved Push Girl, a novel that Jessica Love wrote in part with Chelsie Hill. I was excited to hear that she was publishing a novel on her own in the form of In Real Life. This book, though it has some problems, is quite the engaging read.
Hannah and Nick has been best friends for four years, but they’ve never actually met each other. Throwing her good girl image out the door, Hannah, her sister Grace, and her friend Lo decide to go to Sin City, so Hannah can finally meet Nick. Obviously, it’s a meeting that doesn’t go perfectly, especially when Hannah finds out that Nick has been hiding the fact that he has a girlfriend. Drama and comedy ensues, and Hannah and Nick must figure out exactly what their feelings are for each other.
For the most part, I liked Hannah. Her voice felt very authentic, and she’s someone who is just so used to following plans and rules to a tee. She has no concept of doing things freely without fear of consequence. She’s someone who I think a lot of readers can connect with, though her treatment of a specific character disappointed me. Frankie is the girlfriend Nick never speaks of, and when Hannah meets her, there’s this huge part of her that treats her poorly, saying she “wants to hate her” and while I like that Hannah grows out of this phase, part of me thinks that she was a bit nasty at times. I get not wanting to be the other girl, but hating someone because they are kind and wanting to get to know you? Harsh! However, the turn around for both these characters is fantastic, and I love the way that Love shows how they can put their differences aside and try to be friends.
My main issue with this book is that while it’s super cute, it’s quite predictable to a fault. You know that Hannah and Nick are going to get together, but every chapter ends on this cliffhanger where everything is so complicated and yet everything could be solved by a conversation. But Nick and Hannah are constantly blocked by anyone and everyone from having said conversation, so while it makes for good tension, I’m one of those readers who also gets impatient and is like “get on with it!”
Despite those issues with it, there’s some really great moments in the story involving Hannah and Nick. My favourite was the wedding scene, which both made me laugh and grin. I loved the way in which Nick shares his feelings in terms of his anxiety and desire to be a private person. I adored Frankie’s openness and her desire to be someone that shares… even if I disagree with her oversharing. I thought the characters were simply a lot of fun, and quite adorable.
While this is a story you likely might have read already, I think In Real Life is still worth checking out. It might not be perfect, but it does have some absolutely fantastic moments in it that make the reading experience worthwhile. Overall I found this to be a quick, sweet little read, and if you like some fluffy contemporary with some humour and a touch of angst, then check this book out.