Book Review: ‘You Had Me At Hello’ by Mhairi McFarlane

“Do nothing, and nothing happens. Life is about decisions. You either make them or they’re made for you, but you can’t avoid them”

I’m the kind of person who is very easy to please. Although this isn’t how I should start to review something- but it’s true. I like to the see the good in everything, because of the hardship it goes through. I mostly read romance novels – the contemporary kind. So, when I came across this book at the bookstore, it appealed to me. This book is full of wise words, jokes and heart-breaking harsh truths.

“What happens when the ONE that got away comes back.”

This tagline was enough convincing for me to buy the book. And I did. Usually, when I really like a book, I go crazy just reading it. But, this book, was another level. I was infatuated with the book- the characters felt extraordinarily real. I didn’t want to do anything but read it- till I devoured it. And yet, I didn’t want it to finish. Lucky for me, it was satisfactorily long- and not in the way that it ever got boring.

The book is about Rachel and Ben, both in their super early 30s, had been friends in the university, but due to situations and complication nuances, Ben had left and they haven’t been in touch for like a whole decade.

The story revolves back in present and flashbacks to tell us what happened. In the present, Rachel, a journalist, had just called off her engagement with her boyfriend of 13 years- because it took her that long to realize she didn’t love him anymore. Ben’s married to Olivia and has just moved back to Manchester where Rachel is.

In the present, when Rachel coincidentally bumps into Ben again, their friendship blossoms again- just like the good old days. It’s important to know and understand that this story isn’t about cheating on one’s partner or spouse.

The book is very real- it’s contemporary at its best. Rachel doesn’t have any adorable flaws, and Ben isn’t the perfect, right-minded man. I could say he is slightly chivalrous, but the man has his faults. The other characters in the book are also as real as they can be. One of Rachel’s best friend, Mindy is probably my favourite. She reminded me a lot of Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project and it’s not because the character is Indian or named Mindy- but the humour and situations she finds herself in were quite hilarious.

The book has the right mix of humour, wit and anxiety knots. The book doesn’t have consistent flashbacks- and it’s not till much later in the story that you find out why Ben disappeared in University. But, they are timed perfectly. She doesn’t keep you anxious till the end but doesn’t reveal it too early either.

Mhairi has clearly mastered the art of balancing a realistic modern romance- which I can’t say for many contemporary authors. While, I do enjoy fantasizing, sometimes you need the harsh truth, the reality- but in a very well written way.

I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves reading contemporary romance novels like I do.

Some of my favourite quotes from the book are:

“You were let down by someone you trusted. Happens to us all.”

“He’s unfinished business. It’s bound to have stirred you up, him coming back when he did. Don’t be too sure it’s love.”

“Anything you can’t have any more starts to look more appealing.”

 

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