When I found out I got a new job, the first thing I did was place a book order. Although I have approximately 129 books on my “Want To Read” list, I picked three. One of them was You Deserve Each Other, the debut novel by Sarah Hogle.
I’d originally seen this book in a romance novel haul on YouTube and was excited when the booktuber gave it five stars. Then I saw it hyped up a few more times from the reading community on Twitter and decided I had to give it a go.
This is a book that I read in a single day, almost in just one sitting, and I’m so glad I made the decision to buy it!
We open on the second date between Naomi and Nicholas. They’re going to share their first kiss that night, and they’re both clearly nervous.
Immediately, we jump forward in time and see how now, the opposite is true. That love or lust is gone. Naomi can hardly stand Nicholas, but there’s a problem. They’re engaged, and if the wedding is called off, she’d have to foot the bill.
What seems to be the issue? From Naomi’s perspective, we see his lack of attention, his doting on his mother and not on her, his inability to stand up for his fiance to his mother, his lack of affection, his business at work, his opposite of thoughtfulness, etc. He seems like a nightmare!
But remember… we only get to see Naomi’s side of things, as she is the narrator.
One day, during an argument, Naomi finds out Nicholas is just as miserable as she is, but isn’t calling off the wedding for the exact same reason. Hijinks ensue to see who can get one to break up with the other first.
As time goes on, Naomi realizes she’s not exactly blameless in the demise of their relationship. Maybe she wasn’t paying close enough attention, either.
Somewhere along the way, these mean-spirited pranks turn into jokes which turn into a friendship. Can it turn into love again, before they’re out of time?
Okay, let me start off with the really, really good. It’s possible that given my reality, I really resonated with Naomi’s job search, but I thought it was so smart to have Naomi be a not college educated woman who is happy and takes pride in her small shop job.
She didn’t need to have a degree and a corporate job to be Nicholas’s equal.
Of course, she struggles with this throughout the novel but that felt so real and important to me. It’s rare to have a woman be going through that in a romance/chick lit novel and so I give major props to Sarah Hogle for writing that.
As time went on, I understood Nicholas’s perspective more and I found myself really liking him. I felt bad for the way Naomi had detached from the relationship and loved the way he started standing up to his mother in Naomi’s defense.
Because holy shit is that woman a monster.
I hate saying that because being super attached to your only son is a well-known and well-worn trope, but usually there is resolution. Mrs. Rose gets no redemption arc. And there’s a difference between over-the-top loving your son and actually being mean. Having Naomi’s dress taken in to a size zero and refusing to let her eat cake at Thanksgiving so she can fit in it (when the wedding is still two months away and Naomi’s never been a size zero in her life) is just plain cruel. I despised her.
Back to Nicholas.
The one thing that frustrated me with him is that little things that were mentioned went ignored. He never faced the music for purchasing a house without his fiance’s opinion.
Naomi mentions that he forced them to hang out with his friends on her birthday, but never confronts him about that. I wish she’d stood up for herself about these small moments, but they get mentioned and then brushed over. I’m glad they work through it, although I wanted to know what he would have said about this birthday in particular.
One thing Sarah Hogle did that I just loved was withholding the story of how they first met. Their “meet-cute” if you will. You don’t really realize it when the book starts on the second date, but as time goes on, there are little mentions of how they met and by the end (if you’re like me) you’re dying to know!
The payoff was adorable and wonderful. I loved that brief flash back at the end, it brought everything full circle.
This book was romantic, funny, easy to read, so enjoyable and unique. Lovers to enemies to lovers is a smart twist on the enemies to lovers trope, and I thought the whole thing just felt like a book I’d never read before.
But, and take this with a grain of salt, my biggest complaint is that this book is also sad.
As someone in a serious, committed relationship, it devastated me how Naomi and Nicholas treated each other. I had to lay on my boyfriend’s chest for 15 minutes while reading this just to comfort myself. It broke my heart that two people who were once so in love now acted this way towards one another, and it went on and on.
“Are we ever going to end up like this?” “I never, ever want this to be me.” “I can’t imagine ever getting to this point.” “Why are they so mean to each other?”
These thoughts cycled through my head the entire time I was reading. I said take this with a grain of salt because I am a sappy romantic and the experience of reading this in a relationship versus single is probably quite different. But I hope no one ever reads this book and says “that’s the relationship I want.” It’s not healthy, and honestly they probably should have broken up and moved on.
Having said all that, I still loved reading You Deserve Each Other and am glad it felt so new and fresh. I highly recommend reading this one, either as entertainment or as an example of what not to do. Or both!
4 out of 5 stars.