So after yesterdays long and sad post; normal service will resume with a review of Giovanna Fletcher’s rather brilliant new book.
You’re The One That I Want
So way back in September I reviewed Giovanna’s first book “Billy and Me” and I loved it, I thought it was an interesting take on the whole normal person falling in love with a massively famous person a la “Notting Hill.” This was because it had a lot more depth than a novel with that premise would usually have. It was very character driven with people dealing with there own hangups and fears, this made it feel very real and relatable. So when she released her new book I was hyped, did it live up to my expectations? In a word, yes.
“Maddy, dressed in white, stands at the back of the church. At the end of the aisle is Rob – the man she’s about to marry. Next to Rob is Ben – best man and the best friend any two people ever had.
And that’s the problem.
Because if it wasn’t Rob waiting for her at the altar, there’s a strong chance it would be Ben. Loyal and sensitive Ben has always kept his feelings to himself, but if he turned round and told Maddy she was making a mistake, would she listen? And would he be right?”
“You’re The One That I Want” is about three childhood friends: Ben Maddy and Robert; Ben and Robert have been friends pretty much their whole life, they meet Maddy when they are nine and immediately become firm friends. The book details their relationship and how it changes as they get older. At its heart it is a story of unrequited love, and the complexity of human emotions.
This is a beautiful book, I identified with the characters a lot, especially Ben as I know what it feels like to be the quiet one, the one too shy to say how he feels, as he’s worried what effect it will have on the group of friends. That isn’t to say I didn’t like Robert, if anything I identified with him just as much as Ben, he has a big heart and is a great supportive friend to Ben and an excellent boyfriend to Maddy throughout their lives.
I don’t usually like love triangle type plots, as most of the time they aren’t desperately interesting and I just end up wanting to give the characters a good slap towards the middle. But this gets round a lot of this by having it be written by two people, Ben and Maddy. This is interesting as it shows how two people can be in the the same situation and see it completely differently, which leads me on to another thing this book gets right, she writes men very well.
In a lot of books written by women men can be over simplified and not feel very complex, (the same is also true for the way a lot of men write women,) but here almost all of the characters are very three dimensional regardless of gender, they all feel like real people going through real issues in their lives, the parts set when they are in high school and uni are particularly excellent in regards to the emotions these characters feel, while going through times of adversity.
This book is more complex than Billy and Me, especially emotionally, at times it is truly heartbreaking, at others it’s funny and touching, as it deals with three people who have known each other for most of there lives, and how your attitudes to both life and relationships change as you get older, (there are also couple of references to Billy and Me which are a nice nod to the people who have read it.)
I think this book is truly excellent- Giovanna is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers and I can’t wait to see what she does next. Much like Billy and Me it’s not something that I would normally read, however her characters and the unpredictability of her plots grab hold of you and refuse to let go, this is a book that keeps you guessing right up until the last 20 pages. It is marvellous and you should definitely read it if you haven’t already. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll want to read it again as soon as you finish.
Rating 5/5 Go read it, like right now.