Rant, Review

Review: Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey (2020)

Waiting for Tom Hanks, #2

Review of Waiting for Tom Hanks #1

Heat Factor: There’s nothing. It’s closed door.

Character Chemistry: I think all the chemistry was actually in the first book

Plot: 30-ish woman having a meltdown

Overall: This is kind of like when you’re in your early 20s, listening to your friend constantly talk about the guy she’s obsessed with but refuses to do anything about it.


Here I’m going to be upfront: I hated this book. 

But my reasons for hating this book are pretty specific to, like, all the choices that Winfrey made to craft this story, so it can work for people who are not me. I guess.

The story is all 1st POV from Chloe’s perspective, so all we’ve got to go on is what Chloe tells us. Chloe’s life is not going the way she wants it to go. Her mom ran out on the family when she was little. Her dad has Alzheimer’s and she’s responsible for his care. She’s going to school part time and working in a coffee shop so she can peace out whenever there’s an emergency with her dad. Her brother is irresponsible. Her best friend wrote a rom-com about an imaginary relationship between her and her boss. And also (because the best friend is the protagonist of the last book), her best friend has left her for a glamorous life in L.A. 

So I can’t deny that Chloe’s life would probably be difficult for just about anyone to manage or be okay with. Also, I freely admit that there are many ways I totally identify with Chloe because I also often don’t want to ask for help or rely on other people because I CAN DO IT, OKAY!? IT’S FINE. I’M NOT PANICKING, YOU’RE PANICKING.

Anyway. 

My irritation comes from maybe two places. 

One: Chloe needs to set herself some boundaries because HOLY WOW YIKES.

I was aware the whole time I was reading that Chloe was going through a growth arc that would eventually, at the end, get her to realize that the proper way for her to control her whole life was not to try to control everything around her, but to prioritize and set herself some boundaries. But even when the people around her were offering support or telling her in a variety of different ways that she needed to set herself some clear boundaries so she could at least take care of herself, she bit all their heads off. Like, HOW DARE YOU TRY TO EMPATHIZE WITH MY LIFE, YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW, HOW DARE YOU! 

I mean, why does she wait until THE DAY BEFORE HER BEST FRIEND’S MOVIE PREMIER to say that she doesn’t like how closely the story resembles her own life? She’s so busy trying to do absolutely everything for everyone even though no one is asking her to do that, and then she whines about how miserable she is because her life is so hard. I just wanted to be like, “You know what? If you want to be miserable forever that’s fine. Be miserable. Just don’t force everyone else to join the ride.”

Just. Own your life, Chloe. Please. Your refusal to accept your choices while whining about them for over 200 pages is EXHAUSTING.

Two: Nick is pretty much completely opaque and I don’t understand at all why he loves Chloe. 

There are all these little hints about Nick’s backstory, but they aren’t ever really fleshed out, so this is completely Chloe’s story. Furthermore, it ends up being all about how Nick is a good partner because of how he treats Chloe. And he treats her SO WELL. Like. OMG. IF ONLY the guy I rejected romantically totally respected all my boundaries but also made me soup and tea when I was sick and helped me whenever I was having a meltdown… I would also probably fall in love with him. Of course I believe that Chloe is deserving of love, hot mess or no, but I have absolutely NO IDEA why Nick thinks Chloe is worth being treated like garbage for this entire book. Because she absolutely yanks him around in super unkay ways. She sets a boundary. He respects it. She immediately backtracks and takes the relationship back to teasingly sexual and then when it gets real she sets the boundary again. She only treats him like a friend when she wants something from him. If I were Nick, I hope I’d be like, “Wow, this might be toxic, I have to gooooooooooooo.”

For real, Nick, someone saying “I love you” as a grand gesture in front of a bunch of other people is not an indication that she is serious about changing her behavior, managing her life in a healthier way, and respecting you.

I feel like I should be more torn, because Chloe’s feelings are not outrageous. It’s not strange for someone to feel like they’re being left behind when others around them appear to be moving forward with life. It’s not strange to feel like you’re not succeeding, but the harder you try the less it feels like things are working out. It’s not at all strange to grieve and struggle while you’re dealing with a long-term illness like Alzheimer’s, especially when you feel like you’re dealing with it alone. It’s not weird to want to be able to overextend and make something special for someone important to you. It’s just that the way Chloe handles all those feelings is so unhealthy that it’s hard to get on board with her getting the guy when she dumped on him consistently for the whole book.


Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop


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