Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Review: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Anyone who has been in a long term relationship of any sort knows that it's not all roses and candlelight dinners. There are times you love your partner and times you wonder where to hide the body. Or maybe I'm projecting. ::wink:: But seriously, every successful relationship has highs and lows and it takes commitment to work through the lows and remember why you fell in love with your person in the first place. Certainly all relationships aren't worth the work but the ones that are, well, they really are. And it's this idea, that of finding your way back to happy and love in a relationship is at the heart of Sarah Hogle's debut novel, You Deserve Each Other.

Naomi and Nicholas's relationship starts, like many, in a glow of love and joy. Almost two years on, after they've gotten engaged, Naomi kind of despises Nicholas even as she posts glowing captions on social media. She can't remember what she loved about him and wants to call off the wedding. But whoever calls it off has to cover the massive expenses already paid and since Naomi can't afford that (she's about to lose her job as the store she works at is closing), she's devised a plan to make Nicholas call it off and foot that bill instead. She's going to sabotage their relationship. Nicholas responds in kind. Each of them is bratty and vindictive toward the other. They bicker and scheme, letting all of their bottled up resentment spew because they aren't grown up enough to communicate about where their formerly wonderful relationship has gone sour. The lengths they go to in order to get under each other's skin is often incredibly entertaining even as the reader winces at their childishness. Luckily, the second half of the book sees them slowly working back to a friendship, a united front, and a realization that they do, in fact, still love each other.

The novel is first person from Naomi's perspective so the information the reader gets about the relationship is one sided. It can be hard to live in her brain in the first half of the book, stewing in all of the unhappiness and anger she's holding onto. Nicholas comes off as a snob and her future mother-in-law is an underhanded gorgon from hell. It is only as the story progresses that it is clear how deeply unhappy and insecure Naomi is with other aspects of her life, allowing it to color her reactions to every irritation she feels with Nicholas. They clearly lost their way as the relationship progressed, losing sight of who each of them was at core. Only by finding themselves again, looking back to when they met and were those past people they each fell in love with, will they be able to be happy together again. The writing is funny and the premise is an unusual one for a rom com. Hogle has walked the line with her characters, making them not so very likable in the beginning but allowing the reader to discover their appealing sides as they both rediscover those sides of themselves and by the end the reader is rooting for them to be the happily ever after. Fun and frothy, this is a promising debut. Hang in through the sometimes mean-spirited shenanigans and enjoy the sweet, but still entertaining, reconciliation.

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