Friday, June 17, 2022

74. With and Without You

With and Without You. Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka. 2022. 384 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "I want to break up."

Premise/plot: Siena, our heroine, wants to break up with Patrick, our hero. BUT on the day she's planned to break it off with him, he tells her that his family is moving to Austin, Texas. Seeing a way out of a hard/clean break, she tells him she'd like to try to do long distance. (He did ask her if she wanted to try long distance or just break up with him.) Thus begins the will they, won't they dance that is the novel With and Without You. The novel spans a full year--give or take a week. Begins the summer before senior year, ends the summer after senior year. The author uses text messages to fast-forward the time apart--for better or worse. The time together includes Thanksgiving, New Years, spring break. These chapters are fleshed out and packed with scenes. Will they stay together? Will they break up?

My thoughts: I would be a LOT more invested in this story if we weren't thrown into it this late in the game. Starting a novel with a couple on the verge of breaking up doesn't really make me *care* about if they stay together or break up. And sad to say I continued to not care if they stayed together or broke up from first page to last. Not really having "seen" them together as a couple that was happy and in love, I'm indifferent to their choices. Maybe Siena can live without Patrick just fine. Maybe she'll fall in love with someone else. Maybe there's been a guy who's been hoping for a chance to make his move. Or not. I really don't care. Patrick doesn't seem as fleshed out as Siena. (After all, we're living in Siena's headspace, not his.) And while their scenes together are good, for the most part, again it's not like we're swooning with the glorious-ness of this couple. Usually when a novel starts off with a near-break up, readers know that the real love interest is probably going to be introduced in the next chapter or so. There will be a love triangle--usually with a strong contender and a weak contender. That isn't the direction this one chooses to go--not really. But it's not because this one goes in a different direction, more like it's directionless. By the time the novel ended, I didn't care if she stayed with Patrick, broke up with Patrick, got a new boyfriend, or stayed single. If this was a second book in the series, and I'd spent a book falling in love with them as individuals and as a couple, I'd have been swept up into this drama. But as it is, I just wasn't.


© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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