My reading of late has veered towards what I considered to be lightweight … quick reads, with humour and perhaps a little romance. The Friend Zone and The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez fitted the bill … although it turns out that they’re not that lightweight, as each story tackles difficult and emotional topics.
The following review contains a plot spoiler:
In mid-May, I fell in love with Abby Jimenez’ debut novel, The Friend Zone. I thought I’d read a few pages before bed. Next thing I knew, I was halfway through the book and trying to force my eyes to stay open long enough to read just one more page. It’s that kind of book. The characters stole my heart, and I couldn’t wait to see where the story would take them. I was constantly laughing at the sarcasm and quick wit.
I was smitten the moment we met Sloan’s fiancé, Brandon. And part of it was because I loved the idea of two best friends falling in love with another pair of best friends. (Have you ever tried to make friends as a couple?) So often, there’s one person you like more. But as Kristen fell in love with Josh, Brandon’s best friend, I could picture the four of them living near each other, raising their children at the same time, going on holiday together, and more. When Brandon died, I felt both the loss of him and how I’d imagined the future for all of them.
Favourite line – Just say okay.
By late-May, I was knee deep in The Happy Ever After Playlist, which picks up two years later. Sloan’s life is still on pause, as if she’s suspended in time. Brandon’s clothes are still in the wardrobe, his drink sitting open where he left it. Sloan is surviving, but she’s not really living. Then, a dog jumps in her car window and everything changes. When Sloan finally tracks down the owner, she learns he’s a musician currently on tour in Australia. He wants his dog back, but Sloan’s not ready to surrender her new pet to someone who didn’t even know he was missing for two weeks. Can you call it a meet cute when a couple has yet to meet? Either way, it’s the beginning of a romance too adorable for words.
When I learned two years had passed before the start of this book, I thought it might mean that we wouldn’t see the worst of Sloan’s grief. But that wasn’t the case at all. It was hard to see her so withdrawn and isolated, but I enjoyed watching her begin to fight for healing. I was so proud of her for embracing life, opening herself back up to love, and learning when to say goodbye.
Jason, the dog-owning musician, is my new literary crush. I can’t resist a charmer. From the moment Jason started replying to Sloan’s texts, I was hooked. He’s funny, flirty, and straightforward. He knows what he wants, he’s willing to wait for it, and he’s not playing games with Sloan. Now, he’s not perfect, most notably when he has a huge “I’m withholding information for her own good/to protect her” moment. But I understood his reasoning, even as I mentally yelling at him to stop it. Apart from that, I’m here for the gorgeous, guitar-playing, Minnesota man.
Favourite line – I’d notice you in a crowd of a million.
I read them both, one after the other, and then I went back and read them again.