Review: Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey (2019)

Heat Factor: Like…warm? Closed door.

Character Chemistry: It’s a fun sort of chemistry. He’s totally into her and she’s totally obtuse. 

Plot: Rom-com plot. Obvi. 

Overall: A little fluff that also speaks to me as a smut scholar

This one is a fun, fluffy sort of read, which was exactly what I was hoping for. I can’t quite decide what to expect from these illustrated covers, and with this one straight up calling out Tom Hanks, I was a little more uncertain than usual. There was all the potential for this to be a rage-inducing read: 

  1. It’s a contemporary, so unlike historicals, the problems are usually in people’s heads rather than external.
  2. The heroine wants her life to mimic a 90s rom-com. (Except she’s super into Sleepless in Seattle, which is totally not funny?)
  3. The ubiquitous romance genre misunderstanding based on something totally stupid that would be easily resolved by, I don’t know, talking about it?

Annie is your usual sort of rom-com mess. She’s a writer and she’s doing fine but she’s not doing great. She’s in a bit of a torpor, actually. Annie’s life revolves around…German Village. That’s about it. She writes her freelance articles in the coffeehouse where her bestie works (hello book 2!), works on her screenplay by night, and lives in her mother’s Victorian house with her single, gamer uncle. I’m not sure how her metaphorical Tom Hanks is supposed to find her when she pretty much never leaves a one-square mile neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio. But that’s the whole thing with the rom-com, right? There’s a meet cute!

This meet cute is the running-into-the-guy-with-hot-coffee trick. Annie and her friend are scoping out the area where filming is about to begin for a new romantic comedy when Annie runs into the movie’s leading man. Drew is obviously more complex than he seems on the surface, Annie just has to get to know him to see it for herself! Annie has a job on the set, so we get a little forced proximity for her and Drew, plus Drew decides to semi-haunt the aforementioned coffee shop. Naturally Annie’s winning all the obtuse points because if she weren’t then there wouldn’t be a story. 

In terms of a romance, this one isn’t a sweeping, dramatic, passionate, butterfly-inducing true love. It’s fun and light-hearted and playful. There’s been a lot of chatter in Romancelandia about the marketing of books as “rom-coms”, because that creates a certain expectation in the reader. This one succeeds. Situational humor and banter peppered the pages, and it made me lol several times. It’s written in the first person, and the heroine is kinda taking the piss out of herself: 

Love is complicated is what I’m saying. It relies on fate and Peter Gallagher falling onto a train track and, more often than you would find plausible, comas. I can’t engineer that; I just have to let it happen, and if that means waiting, then I’m okay with that. Chloe may think that I’m not “trying” or “putting myself out there” or “actually using the apps she put on my phone before deleting them,” but she doesn’t get it. You can’t methodically stalk your way into true love (although I guess Meg Ryan did kind of do that in Sleepless in Seattle, and it worked out pretty well for her).

I mean, come on! You can’t take this seriously! We’re going for a fun little jaunt here! But although the story centers on film rom-coms, there are numerous parallels to romance that spoke to me as I read. Annie’s taking the piss out of herself, but Winfrey seems to be making a point: 

Anyone who likes romantic comedies knows that there are plenty of criticisms lobbed at the genre, like that the films are vapid or sexist, or that they create unrealistic relationship expectations or encourage abusive behavior. None of those criticisms mean anything to me because I don’t think they’re true. But it stings when people complain about the genre’s lack of diversity because they’re obviously correct.

So on the one had we’re playing and on the other hand we’re thinking. It was a good balance. And of course when we get into all the angst at our pivotal moments, that balances out pretty well, too. We do get into that misunderstanding drama nonsense, but you can’t have everything, right? At least the gamer uncle pulls through for us with his ageless gamer wisdom, which is as it should be.

Buy Now: Amazon

Think this book sounds interesting, but that it’s not quite right for you? Check out some of our other reviews:

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