By Claudia Siron
“Lucy used to handle her adult romantic life according to the script she'd been handed. She met a guy just like herself: same age, same background, same hopes and dreams; they got married and started a family.
Too bad he made her miserable. Now, two decades later, she's a nearly-divorced, forty-one-year-old schoolteacher with two school-aged sons, and there is no script anymore. So when she meets Joseph, she isn't exactly looking for love – she's more in the market for a babysitter.
“Joseph is twenty-two, living at home with his mother, and working several jobs, including the butcher counter where he and Lucy meet. It's not a match anyone one could have predicted.
“He's of a different class, a different culture, and a different generation. But sometimes it turns out that the person who can make you happiest is the one you least expect, though it can take some maneuvering to see it through.” – Goodreads
“Just Like You is a brilliantly observed, tender, but also brutally funny new novel that gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person – someone you didn't see coming.” – Penguin Random House
When I read this book, I instantly felt a connection to the theme of unforseen love– the kind you find with someone you would have never expected. I also resonated with the theory many of us find true love at a time in our lives where we’re not really looking for it willingly. The brilliant author Nick Hornby – who wrote High Fidelity and Funny Girl – painted a raw, genuine picture of new love in the 21st century using relatable characters.
Firstly, the age difference has been something quietly fantasised by many in the current era. In the 90s and 2000s, I’ve found that many books and films would usually cast a love affair between an older man and a younger woman as at the time it was something people found to be a lot more heated and exciting. Something readers and viewers would want to find for themselves. Books like Zoe Foster Blake’s The Younger Man champion the new trend of ‘sexy relationships’ in popculture to switch up the game – and it’s clearly working.
We also now see in Netflix films and shows – like Easy and Love Life – that hero diverse relationships with people who are of opposite class, generations and backgrounds and almost examine how relationships with people who are too similar in age, socio-economic class and other checklist options aren’t the correct fit in the modern era. Similarities are boring.
In a review written by Malcom Forbes for the Star Tribune – which I couldn’t agree more with – mentioned: “Hornby writes about human connection and interaction with facility and acuity, and always in the most engaging prose. He makes us care deeply for his two protagonists as they follow their instincts — falling in love, falling apart, then making another go of it. Each is aware of what keeps them strong, but also what threatens to destabilize them.”
The book also delves into how the ‘random’ relationship impacts their outside relationships with others – something that’s both inevitable and relatable. The warm and witty romance novel set in London also brings in the current climate by involving brexit and other state-of-the-nation issues playing out in recent times, making it an absolute must-read this season.
Recommendations for when reading this book:
Setting: Seated outside on the deck whilst away on a seasonal trip
Drink: A crisp white wine
Snack: Sweet and salty popcorn
Mood: When you crave an escape from reality and want light, witty entertainment with substance