Simon & Schuster | 6 June 2023 | 336 pgs
Jess first met Josh at their college. They are completely opposites in every sense. Both of them are opinionated and it's no surprise that their views often clash during most of the talks and discussions in classes together. Jess thought she'd never meet Josh again after graduation, until her first day at work as an analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Being the only Black woman on the floor, Jess is often overlooked and underestimated. She gets all the mundane work despite her qualifications, and her diligence unrecognised as well. Josh, on the other hand, is like a rising star. Given their speech sparring in college, one would've thought that they'd remain solely as working colleagues but surprisingly, Josh shows up for her in his own ways, although he could be direct and insensitive at times. It doesn't take long for them to move from being colleagues to friends, and as an undeniable chemistry slowly formed between them and becomes an attraction, it leave them both in surprise and a bit of exhilaration.
But then the year is 2016, and their relationship is challenged by the cultural and political aspect and added the forthcoming presidential election, Josh and Jess find themselves caught between their political views differences; especially Jess who question herself if it's more important to be happy than right. After all, she's brought up by her father who has a strong belief in equality and their heritage after her mother's death when she was a girl. Jess doesn't want to shun away his belief, but she finds herself in a dilemma as she's just beginning to discover who she is and who she has the right to be; and asking herself if she should choose happiness and if it's indeed everything’s fine as she dare herself to hope for the better. Unlike her, Josh is an empiricist. What the future holds for them?
This was a difficult review to write as there's sexism, racism and political elements alongside the interactions/dynamics between Josh and Jess. It isn't a book one would love for the contents, but the author's prose was clear and engaging and I find myself hooked by this story. Regarding the relationship between Josh and Jess, I just couldn't think of what to describe it. I think Josh loved Jess in a way (was it the strawberries scenario that had Jess landed in the hospital due to allergies and thereafter, Josh had stopped eating them?) but he was so full of his own ideas and theories that he couldn't allow himself to see others from their perspectives and that's his weakness. I liked Jess when she's not afraid to voice out her thoughts at times, but there are also occasions that she self-doubt about things and telling herself that everything’s fine, which in fact isn't. There's so much to talk about on this book but I think it's best that you read it yourself. Suffice it to say that this was a powerful and a thought-provoking debut which had me thinking long after I closed the book.
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