“What I was wondering is, if you too hope we have one of those first dates that turns into days and nights…because we can’t stand to be apart.”
This was an interesting read for me. I went in with set expectations and was taken aback when the book turned out to be quite different. I had some qualms with it, but overall, the parts I liked won out and I gave this book 3.5 stars.
Honestly, for the first 50 pages or so, I was considering DNFing this one and actively disliking it 😬. I hadn’t even realized yet that it wasn’t the cute, steamy rom-com I had pegged it to be. I just did not love the writing or tone of the book. The main character Georgina’s voice was abrasive and didn’t read as very natural. There were way too many random pop culture references thrown in for my liking. And, the whole concept that this guy does not remember someone he dated and fell in love with only about 13 years ago was quite far-fetched to me. It seemed too silly and I just didn’t feel like I was clicking with the story. It took me a while to realize that the book was heavily steeped in UK culture and influence, which explains some of the jarring qualities. The British slang and humor took some getting used to, as well as the general dry delivery. Once I got more used to the writing, tone, and humor, it was a much better experience. And it turned out to be quite funny, too!
I was also thrown in the beginning when it flashed back to the main characters as kids in high school falling in love for the first time. I had not signed up for a high school romance, so I generally didn’t care to read about it. Then, when it was clear it was a second-chance romance, I was once again expecting the rom-com feels. But you only get a taste of them here. Ultimately, this book is about Georgina coming to terms with her past trauma, facing her life head on, and realizing her worth. The romance is second fiddle to her journey. Once I realized this, it was much more enjoyable to read.
Certain lines stood out to me as being so completely relatable, profound, insightful, and poignant. McFarlane did a great job of layering her character and presenting some truly deep ideas in a very accessible way. She commented on feminism, family dynamics, abuse, sexism, and slut-shaming in an eloquent and very organic way. The commentary on being 30 and still figuring things out was so good. It’s okay to not have everything together at 30, as long as you are happy and working on yourself. Life doesn’t have to be exactly as society tells you it needs to be and there is no rush. She discussed relationships and dating and the general feeling that you will never find love or will never be good enough. And how this hopelessness, fear, and insecurity enables you to get stuck in a bad relationship. Much more of the story was about Georgina leaving her toxic ex Robin and about the damage she was letting him inflict on her, than it was about her rekindling a relationship with the boy from her past Lucas. In leaving Robin, Georgina learns to finally stand up for herself, realize her worth, and deal with her past.
The most surprising thing about this book was how it took a turn near the end and revealed a secret that Georgina has been suppressing since high school, a secret that ruined her relationship with Lucas and set her on a bad course. By finally talking about her sexual assault, she frees herself from its lingering effects on her life. She no longer lets it overpower her, which is the primary theme here. Georgina growing as a person, coming to grips with herself, releasing herself from blame, and taking ownership of her future. I do think this was written in a very respectful and accurate manner. It brought to light victim-blaming, how harmful and toxic high school can truly be, and how an assault like that can scar you forever.
I really did enjoy reading this and I think it is a good book. I think some people will not like that it is definitely more fiction than romance, but it is very much worth the read still, in my opinion. All of the side characters were interesting, as well, and had their own journeys. I liked Georgina’s friends and family. Her words about her late father were very touching and heartbreaking. All of the relationship dynamics, both friend and family, were well written. Overall, I am giving this one 3.5 stars. On one hand I really didn’t like the beginning of the book and the way certain things were written, but on the other hand, I loved the messages here and thought Georgina’s journey was extremely moving and relatable. I would certainly recommend this book, just with a modified description of what to expect!
Thank you all for reading!
Title: Don’t You Forget About Me
Author: Mhairi McFarlane
Genre: Adult | Romance | Contemporary | Fiction | Women’s Fiction | Chick-Lit
Publication Date: January 10th, 2019
Page Count: 433 pages
Buy It: Wordery | Book Depository