Book Review: You Had Me At Hello

You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

Published: December 06, 2012 by Avon

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Adult

Pages: 436

Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Other Books: Here's Looking at You, It's Not Me, It's You


quick synopsis

Rachel and Ben were best friends in college, but it's been 13 years and an entire lifetime it seems since then, and what was once a close friendship is non-existent now. When Rachel's longterm relationship falls apart, Ben pops back into her life and their friendship returns. 

so judging you

My Rating: 3.0 - 3.5

My Rating: 3.0 - 3.5

all of my thoughts

Okay, so I've come to one key realization: these kinds of books - people living everyday life with a story that mimics everyday life with a mysterious backstory and explosive baggage - are just not for me, at least not right now. I need more to sink my teeth into. If I'm gonna invest hours of time into it, I need it to teach me a lesson, invoke that happy nostalgia, give me a bad case of the feels. You know, move me. I want to be moved by the things I invest in. And while this novel, which I believe was McFarlane's debut, shines in some ways, it didn't stir me or hold my attention. So with that said, take my review with a grain of salt (or maybe a teaspoon full). 

As I stated, the biggest pitfall for You Had Me At Hello was a highly personal one. I simply didn't connect with it. The characters were interesting and three-dimensional, which I appreciated. Rachel, recently un-fiancéd (yes, I made that up) and a little lost, strikes a good balance between strength and vulnerability that makes her point of view worth reading.  Ben, he's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, made of sugar and spice and everything nice, the movie star you were crushing on as a preteen. Rachel's girlfriends, Caroline and Mindy, are supportive and encouraging without falling into the "simply supportive and around" background roles that many adult novels tend to condemn side characters to. Ivor, the only guy in friend group dominated by women, adds the kick without being the stereotypical "gay best friend", which is refreshing. The plot, although a bit drawn-out and then somehow rushed towards the end, was executed well enough and had enough going on to keep it from being boring. Yet, I still couldn't dig into this story. It just didn't make an impression. Summarily, this story just wasn't for me, and that's okay. It may still totally be for you.

I may not have connected with it, but one thing's for sure - I plan to keep an eye out for McFarlane's other works because the writing. You guys, the writing is grade-A, man. The way McFarlane strings words together... I have no words to describe it. She's a brilliant writer. She navigates between the present and past elements of the story with ease and she expertly weaves humor into her passages in ways that make you do a double take. "Wait, did she just...? Yup! Hahaha." (I suppose I had words after all!) The British slang did take some time to get use to. For the first 20 or so pages, I furrowed my brow as the terms pulled me out of the story every now and then. But eventually, it melts into the text without making a fuss. I'm also not blinded to the fact that this so American of me :) 


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The Literary Ladies' book for March is Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes! I actually started this in February (I'm like 50 pages in) and I'm absolutely loving it so far. It's shaping up to be exactly what we've come to expect from Shonda - witty, dynamic writing, sharp metaphors and standing in the sun - in her book about finally saying "yes" to the things that scare you most. You simply must join us in reading this!