Beach Read is my latest obsession. Multi-layered, steamy, and heartfelt, Beach Read is one of those books I knew I wanted to re-read the minute I finished. As someone who never re-reads this is a huge accomplishment! Keep reading my book review of Beach Read to find out why I’m obsessed!
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: vomit (mc has emetophobia), mention of a cult, past mentions of child abuse and domestic abuse
Beach Read caught me by surprise. I was already hooked when the summary mentioned polar opposites – a romance writer versus a literary fiction writer – but as I began reading, I easily fell in love. Henry is able to balance a careful attention to her characters with a plot that will thrill you. January and Augustus not only have epic names, but they are flawed and endearing. Both reeling from moments in life that have changed how they see themselves, Augustus and January’s story is about more than romance, but about self-discovery.
When our visions of perfection lead us to disappointment. The crushing disappointment and pain of love that can leave us breathless and forever changed. When our dreams, our hopes, and futures, begin taking on water. Beach Read is about love, but it’s about the love we have to find within ourselves. For forgiveness and second chances in hope and taking a leap of faith. The tension between January and Augustus was palpable, permeating the air like a warm breeze. Just writing this review makes me want to re-read Beach Read!
The summary of Beach Read doesn’t give the book enough credit. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the romance aspect of the book. From steam to banter, it checked all the boxes. But what I loved about Beach Read were the character transformations. Those moments where our whole world view has been altered. A world where that one fact you hold true in your heart, disappears. This felt like such a relatable moment to me.
I grew up on fantasy stories, where there was a quest, struggle, and sacrifice, but that the ultimate deeds, the goodness, ended up winning. And part of that was on the books I was able to access as a kid, but remembering that moment where it clicked for me that your goodness will not equal some karmic justice, some sense of working out in the world, felt like this kind of loss. And while it’s not similar to the situations of both January or Augustus, it’s a sliver of a fragment of idealism, or dreams and hopes, crashing around us.
For lovers of romance books, the conversations where January defends her books – and the way that some people look down on romance stories, but also women’s fiction in general, and happily ever afters – felt like victories. The way that women’s fiction is somehow seen as being in opposition of fiction and the implications that has for stories centering women and for literary merit is a whole other blog post. But these moments gave Beach Read an even further sense of depth.
Beach Read is about happy endings, family, and love, but also about re-discovering yourself. It’s full of character and coming to terms with the scars from our past. And there were moments that made me cry due to their genuine emotion, the rawness of their grief. Beach Read is about the tension between the versions of ourselves that we let people know and the pieces of our soul we keep hidden.