I am by no means an avid Cecelia Ahern fan. I have only read one other book of her’s that I really did enjoy, and that was If You Could See Me Now, not her then-famous P.S. I Love You. If You Could See Me Now left a lasting impression on me, not only for the light-hearted romance and fantastical elements, but for the emotional peaks and valleys – of which I’m an immense fan of. So after stepping into Chapters for the 50th time without purchasing an actual book, I decided to pick up her latest novel How to Fall In Love for a bit of easy reading.
How to Fall In Love follows the story of Christine Rose and Adam Basil over a two week period. Christine saves Adam from killing himself, and commits herself to showing him the good in life before his 35th birthday – the deadline he’s given her. Through her compulsive need to fix the people she meets, she dives headfirst into a reluctant Adam’s life. With his birthday looming and her life caving in from all sides, she discovers that she might need Adam just as much as he needs her.
For me, the most crucial part of a romance novel is whether the actual romance believable or not. In the case of Rose (not an uncommon name among the rom-com novel universe, surprisingly) and Basil, it’s a bit of a reach to have two individuals with no prior knowledge of the other to fall in love within two weeks. Christine spends a good amount of time shoehorning herself into Adam’s life, determined to fix all the kinks in his life. Asking uncomfortable questions, analyzing in depth Adam’s explosive personality. When she suddenly jumps to the conclusion that she’s in love with Adam after a mere seven days, I furrowed my brow and said “what”.
In their defense, yes, there were intimate moments. Moments where Christine slowly discovers her attraction for Adam, who ached for his ex-girlfriend, that really hit me where it hurts. However, all of these bittersweet moments are bowled over by the bloated sub-plots that serve more as gimmicks than actual story progression. Nobody cares about the best friends. Absolutely nobody.
As with all romance novels, we must have a handsome lead. Adam Basil, a blond, model-esque man with startling blue eyes also has the most boring backstory I’ve read in my entire life.
Inheriting a company that he doesn’t want? Sure! A tyrannical father who doesn’t care about his son cliche? Why not?! Family drama that happens suddenly and gets solved in the last twenty pages of the novel? Even better! I found my eyes glazing over as I trekked through the garbage that was the third act. If the last bit of your romance novel doesn’t really deal with romance, then we’ve got some serious overhauling to do, Ms. Ahern.
Riddled with cliches and anti-climactic moments, we aren’t given much in regards to originality, asides from the fact that Adam is suicidal and prone to violent outbursts, but even so… come on. From the tattered life Christine leads, to the awfully banal supporting characters, to the WTF pacing of the entire novel in general, I probably could’ve come up with this while fantasizing about Benedict Cumberbatch before bedtime. Half asleep.
No, it wasn’t all bad. Like any random rom-com movie with B-list leads, it was merely sub-par. If one of your girlfriends just finished it and recommended you read it, then by all means, do so. However, I wouldn’t go out and buy this book again. I’d probably save that twenty for something a little more John Green-y.
I would’ve given this book 4 out of 10, but one quote managed to save it all:
Where would we be without tomorrows? What we’d have instead are todays. And if that was the case, with you, I’d hope for the longest day for today. I’d fill today with you, doing everything I’ve ever loved. I’d laugh, I’d talk, I’d listen and learn, I’d love, I’d love, I’d love. I’d make every day today and spend them all with you, and I’d never worry about tomorrow, when I wouldn’t be with you. And when that dreaded tomorrow comes for us, please know that I didn’t want to leave you, or be left behind, that every single moment spent with you were the best times in my life.
Beautiful. But that’s about it.
– Rachel C.