Christina Lauren returns to the blog today with an ‘opposites attract’ story, full of their trademark inclusion, girl power and general happy feelings. Please read on for my review of
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
Of course we know this book really isn’t about how NOT to date, but all about the insecurities, worries, embarrassing moments and you are not alone sort of vibe that happens as people discover themselves and work to find that person who fits them – and not in that ‘soul mate – there will never be anyone else for me” way, but in a realistic, full of missed-aimed kisses and strange moments that bring you closer….
Introduced to one another in college, Josh is restrained and rather quiet – the sort of guy who doesn’t make many outrageous moves for fear of making the wrong one. It’s not that he’s timid, he’s just aware of what it feels like to be uncomfortable and different – so perhaps he does go a bit over the top in easing the path for others. Hazel however, is a whole different flavor: weird in that fun-loving, interested in much and willing to share it all with the world sort of way, mostly confident in who she is and understanding that she’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s been ten years since she first met Josh, and while he always looked at her as a bit of a show to be watched, ultimately from a distance, they had a friendship unlike anything he could have expected. Now both single, they aren’t planning on dating anyone – but a series of increasingly bad blind dates – where Hazel matches Josh with someone, and vice versa, their own relationship is starting to form in ways unexpected.
Oh this was clever with a twist at the end that truly came from left field and was a bold, if not necessarily welcome, choice. Hazel is a wonderful character – there isn’t a mean bone in her body and she is determined to broaden her own horizons and keep the judgement from the door. For she’s had plenty of that – weird in all the ways that feel plausible and honest, not grasping and searching for attention, she’s pretty sure there isn’t a man out there who can handle all of her as she is, and changing up to fit someone’s ideal isn’t happening. There’s a certain freedom to Hazel that is unique – the thoughts in her head aren’t filtered, and she’s not known to filter much before it hits her tongue. Some truly clever mis-speaks that could have sent her into silent mode – but she’s able to laugh them off, or move around them, mostly because no one feels she means any harm.
Josh had a girlfriend who cheated, so the honesty from Hazel is a refreshing change, even as her freedom of expression and being scare him to his toes. But there’s something that can’t be denied when you have experienced Hazel’s peculiar brand of being – and being an actual nice guy – not an alpha player or one who is too consumed with himself to not see the world around him, and that people won’t die if he doesn’t turn himself inside-out to make them comfortable in every situation that starts to work on Josh. He’s learning to exist in ways that make him happy and don’t challenge who he is by expecting that he can’t and won’t challenge them, or make it easier for them while pushing his own needs and self aside. Perfectly presented new adult characters who are searching, experimenting and trying on tactics and approaches to see which ones fit and feel right with who they are now, and who they are striving to become. Add that growth and a ton of laughs, the trademark openness with difficult issues that come with most books from the duo that is Christina Lauren – here we tackle slut shaming, add diversity with Korean characters, blend in those weird moments about sex and body functions and fluids and there is a sense of accepting everyone for who and what they are –without rushing to judgment, or trying to see what makes them different – instead of seeing how everyone, at their core, has similar wants and dreams, and sometimes the ‘different’ you see can help you to find the sweetness in places you couldn’t expect.
A lovely and fun story that cleverly places characters that you’ll want to befriend into your hands, and guess what? They worry about things you do, learn to move and live despite them, and simply are trying to enjoy this ride called life!
Title: Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: 18+ Read, Contemporary New Adult Romance, Interracial
Published by: Gallery Books
Published on: 4 September, 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 7 Hours: 16 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.
Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.
Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.