Review: Never Saw You Coming (Erin Hahn)

Never Saw You Coming
Author: Erin Hahn
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction

Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Raised by conservative parents, 18-year-old Meg Hennessey just found out her entire childhood was a lie. Instead of taking a gap year before college to find herself, she ends up traveling north to meet what’s left of the family she never knew existed.

While there, she meets Micah Allen, a former pastor’s kid whose dad ended up in prison, leaving Micah with his own complicated relationship about the church. The clock is ticking on Pastor Allen’s probation hearing and Micah, now 19, feels the pressure to forgive – even when he can’t possibly forget.

As Meg and Micah grow closer, they are confronted with the heavy flutterings of first love and all the complications it brings. Together, they must navigate the sometimes-painful process of cutting ties with childhood beliefs as they build toward something truer and straight from the heart.

In Erin Hahn’s Never Saw You Coming, sometimes it takes a leap of faith to find yourself. 


There are some books I know I will never truly do justice in reviewing and Never Saw You Coming is one of those for me. Religion is a tricky subject to cover. No two people have the exact same opinion or feel the same way about it. Some readers are bound to feel alienated by or dislike this book and what Erin Hahn is saying in it. I’m not one of those people. I thought it was beautifully written. To me, it did not come across as Hahn trying to attack religion, but more of asking us to question our own thoughts and actions relating to it. None of the religion related topics were new to me or ones that I hadn’t already thought about. I appreciated the way the story was told and how it related to the characters, especially Meg.

Meg was a young woman who has recently graduated from high school. There have been some revelations in her life that have her questioning the way she was brought up and the role religion and the church has played in her life. Meg uses the gap year she plans on taking to journey north and meet some of her family. While she’s there, she meets Micah. Micah has his own issues with his family and the church. All the soul searching Meg and Micah are doing connects them in a way that just being attracted to each other wouldn’t have. They’re a support system for each other that neither were expecting. I loved how their friendship and then relationship evolved. I loved the honesty they cultivated and the maturity they had in relation to their relationship. Meg and Micah stayed true to themselves throughout the entire book and I was impressed by that.

Along Meg and Micah’s journeys, they have a great cast of supporting character. I loved Vada being along for some of the ride as well as Meg’s family. Micah’s family and friends were my favorites in this book, though. I loved Duke and his friendship. James, Dani, and Meg’s great-grandmother were also great characters. All these characters were so thoughtfully placed in Meg and Micah’s lives.

I don’t know what else to say about this book. I don’t necessarily feel like it was a book I would have needed as a teenager, but I would have benefitted in some ways had I read it back then. I think it will be helpful to a lot of teenagers trying to find themselves and questioning their beliefs. I enjoyed reading it and being part of Meg and Micah’s journeys.

Review: The Intimacy Experiment (Rosie Danan)

The Intimacy Experiment
Author: Rosie Danan
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test. 


I LOVED THIS BOOK!

Is shouty caps and bold text enough to  get across how much I loved it? It had the same magic that Rosie Danan’s debut novel The Roommate had. I didn’t want to put it down. The writing was so engaging. I am not a fan of third person and, once again, Danan’s writing had me forgetting it was even written in third.

Naomi’s story was something I wanted while reading The Roommate. When I read the blurb and found out Danan was matching her up with a rabbi, I was only more curious. How would a relationship between an ex-porn star and a rabbi even work? The answer was BEAUTIFULLY. Ethan and Naomi’s relationship was a slow build/burn. There was a lot of time spent with the two of them getting to know each other. Both Ethan and Naomi were closed up to the idea of love at first, and it was fun to see how their conversations opened them up to the possibility of it. Their personalities and world views fit together surprisingly well for people at pretty much opposite ends of the work force. Plus, they had amazing chemistry. I loved them together.

The concept of Naomi’s Modern Intimacy seminar was cool — for the lack of a better word. The talking points around dating were excellent and something that I would want to share with my teenager when she’s older. It truly was real world applicable, being both fun and informative. 

I was also impressed with how religion was shared in the story. It didn’t feel preachy. I enjoyed learning about Reformed Judaism through Ethan’s character. I was surprised at just how well the way he related scripture to life melded within this romance. 

The last thing I want to talk about was the side characters. The main focus truly was on Naomi and Ethan in The Intimacy Experiment, but there were some other great side characters. It was a pleasure to see Clara and Josh again. Naomi’s friendships with both of them made me love them even more than I already did. I also liked Ethan’s family and parishioners. They added some funny moments to an already entertaining read.

So, yeah. I loved The Intimacy Experiment. It was sweet romance that had me constantly smiling. I am so happy that Rosie Danan’s sophomore novel somehow managed to be even better than her debut. It makes me excited for her books that are still to come.

Review: Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Autoboyography
Author: Christina Lauren
Narrators: Deacon Lee, Kyle Mason
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this funny and poignant coming-of-age novel from New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren about two boys who fall in love in a writing class—one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.


Wow, guys…

I wasn’t expecting to feel the way I did about this book.  I didn’t really have any expectations going into Autoboyography other than it was going to be a fun YA contemporary. That’s not what it was at all. Reading it was an experience I am grateful to have had. The duo behind Christina Lauren wrote a profound story about love, family, friendship, and faith. I’ve listened to a couple of their other adult books, and while those were fun, they never hit me like this one did.

Autoboyography was about Tanner, a high school senior who is bisexual. Tanner’s kept his sexual orientation a secret since moving to Provo, Utah due to the stigma it has in the predominantly Mormon city. It wasn’t hard for Tanner to hide until he met his writing class TA. One look at Sebastian and Tanner is infatuated. Tanner’s not the only one either. Sebastian seems to be just as into Tanner. The problem is Sebastian is a devout Mormon. A relationship with Tanner is completely against everything Sebastian has been taught.

(Almost) everything about this book was heartbreaking. From the moment their story begins, the writing is on the wall. Things will not be easy for Tanner and Sebastian. While Tanner has accepted his identity, Sebastian has not. His family and his religion does not allow him to. The closer they become, the harder life is for both of them. I was sad for Tanner (and Sebastian) so many times. I wanted a happy ever after for them, but I could never be sure that was going to happen for them. Their lives were so different. Their journeys, together and apart, were tough. I loved them and just wanted everything to be magically better for them.

My favorite character in Autoboyography wasn’t either of the main characters. It was actually Tanner’s dad. He had an openness to him that I hope my daughter will eventually find in me. He accepted Tanner for who he was and wanted to the best for him. That didn’t stop him from giving advice and establishing boundaries. In fact, it was his advice and guidance that I loved the most. His statements were so profound, truthful, and beautiful.

To be honest, I felt like I learned a lot about the Mormon religion/culture that I didn’t know before. Some things I had heard of, but others were new to me. I liked that while Autoboyography pointed out short coming regarding the religion’s lack of accepting diverse relationships, it was also respectful of the religion. It not only hit on its short comings but the positive aspects of it as well. The book didn’t bash the religion, just questioned aspects of it through Tanner and Sebastian’s characters.

The one thing I didn’t love about this book was Tanner and Autumn’s relationship. While their friendship was cute and totally supportive, I didn’t like part of it. It’s very apparent Autumn is in love with Tanner. They both try to ignore this so they can save their friendship. There are times when their friendship was uncomfortable for me because I felt that they shouldn’t really be friends. I felt that it was a lopsided friendship. Maybe that was just because Autumn didn’t have a POV, but I felt like it was an unhealthy relationship for her.

Sorry if this review feels a little discombobulated. I loved this book so much, and it’s really hard to put all of my thoughts and feelings into words. I really want everyone to read Autoboyography. It was a beautiful book.