Heat Factor: Hawt
Character Chemistry: They click immediately.
Plot: A double wager at cross-purposes.
Overall: It was fun, but not riveting.
The marketing for Not the Girl You Marry is that it’s a millennial makeover of a role-swapped How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. If you are unfamiliar with this movie, you are either super young, you’re probably a little too old to enjoy this book, or, if you’re in the Gen X / older Millennial age bracket, you have been living under a rock.
I have not watched How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days in years, but I rewatched it after reading this book (thank you to my college roommates who gave it to me for my birthday a really long time ago). I think it rather cemented my thoughts about the book, but it’s totally unnecessary for reading purposes.
Short story, in Not the Girl You Marry, Jack is a how-to guy for an online magazine, and his boss has told him that he can break into the politics scene if he just writes one more how-to article. For that he has to do all the jerk things guys do that send women running the other way. He’s just met Hannah, whom he actually likes, but instead of going out and finding another woman, he decides to keep talking to her with the nebulous idea that he can explain everything after and they can pull through as a couple. Hannah is an event planner who is trying to get a promotion, and in order to get the promotion, she has to demonstrate that she can do weddings just as well as she does other events. When her boss scoffs that she thinks happily ever afters are ridiculous, Hannah returns that she’s met somebody who’s making her rethink all that, and her boss challenges her to keep this guy around for some of the events they’re working on.
My first thought is that a 115 minute movie has substantially less content than a 300+ page book. There has to be more backstory and more depth in the book than what we’d get in the movie. It is for this reason that I felt the book dragged at times. Yes, in stories involving a conflict centered on lies, characters routinely evaluate their lies and regret them, but there is a danger of it becoming repetitive. I wouldn’t go so far with this story, but if you have the movie in the back of your mind, it might contribute to a feeling of too much internal monologuing in the book.
There’s also a good deal of that backstory, and neither of these characters is a player. Hannah is not the girl you marry because that’s what the ex she thought she would marry told her, and it hurt her very badly. She’s got a lot of sharp edges, and while she can easily rub elbows with the classiest of the classy, she tends to be a bit more…coarse. For his part, Jack is a serial monogamist who can’t figure out why his girlfriends keep leaving him when he is such a great guy. And he sees how his friends are with women (hence the notion for the article), so he knows it’s not just in his head. Needless to say, even without the mutual lies, they go into the whole situation with anticipation of abandonment imminent. Heart protection = mandatory. All in all, it’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary for romance novel themes.
Christopher gets elbows deep in local Chicago space, which is fun if you’re familiar with Chicago. Hannah, who is biracial, presents a thoughtful conversation about this identity as it relates to culture–or cultures, as the case may be. Jack, along with his cronies, present a similar conversation about toxic masculinity among modern men. The Catholic identity of both Jack and Hannah, even though they’re not practicing anymore, is also important and prominent. The book is written in a colloquial language that I think someone in the 25-35 age range would be very comfortable with.
As he stood at the bar of a speakeasy in Wicker Park, after waiting fifteen minutes for an artisanal old-fashioned made with, like, artisanal cherries and orange peels scraped off with the bartender’s artisanal hipster fingernails or some shit, he’d been without a girlfriend for six months.
If you’re expecting this to closely match How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, it does and it doesn’t. Hannah and Jack have much more depth than Andie and Ben, and they’re both coming from a place of being damaged, not from a place of being happy-with-life-as-a-single-player. On the other hand, given that the movie is based on a pretty simple premise, the plot tracks pretty consistently. This one is probably a good fit for folks who like a dirty-little-secret-that-will-ruin-everything trope and explicit but not super kinky sex.
Buy Now: Amazon
Looking for something similar? We have got you covered, smut-reading friends!