The Bookish Life of Nina Hill (Abbi Waxman)

2.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
I wanted to like this book. I tried to like this book. I even actually liked parts of this book. Yet ultimately, I found it slow and a bit difficult to finish, which is sad considering how much of the set-up is great. You’ve got your anxious bookworm of a protagonist (see: Bridget Jones meets every romance heroine ever) who’s going through quite a few life changes (finding out the father she never knew has died and left her with a family and possibly something else in a to-be-read-later will) and of course, there’s hot hero in the background. Parts of this book were absolutely adorable, and there’s quite a bit of fun pop culture, but parts of it felt almost painfully cliche and though there’s a very, very well-written part buried about 3/4 in, I ultimately can’t quite recommend this.

Longer Version:
Nina Hill is 29-years-old, works in a book store, and knows a frightening amount of trivia about all sorts of things. She suffers from anxiety, but will usually try to do something positive when given the chance. Like Bridget Jones, we start with the daily goal/diary-like entries as a funny introduction to her thoughts and fears of the day.

The main protagonist is easy to relate to… but almost too bland. She never, not even once, seems to do something genuinely surprising. We expect that anxious heroine to freak out on the hero even when he’s blameless (and so she does). We expect the morally upright heroine to always do the right thing (be there for her friends, be there for her new half-siblings) and so she does. The drama then, is not that there is any character growth (there’s barely any) it’s that the boy who is presented to us as perfect is… actually perfect, that the long-last parent thing gives us some small drama, she shuts down, and then realizes she can’t let parental things out of her control dictate her life.

The end.

It’s all a little too pat. The drawn out parts are too drawn out and even though I enjoyed the first third, I found myself really speeding through the second two-thirds. If there’d been even one surprise, I would’ve been much happier. I don’t know not a happy ending, just a more unexpected twist. Instead, everything we’re promised from the beginning (landlord troubles at the bookstore) mature exactly how we would guess, and resolve exactly as guessed (some are even lampshaded a bit as if to say, “this is how it would happen in a cliched movie” and then… yeah, we still did that).

It’s cute and harmless, but honestly, my fun reads shouldn’t feel like they take effort to finish.

Comparison to Other Authors:
This is like Evvie Drake Starts Over or The Atlas of Love or any of the other kind of upbeat women’s fiction that’s kind of half-romance, half-drama. The romance honestly is predictable (which means the ending is as well, though not necessarily in a bad way) so it’s all about whether you believe the chemistry. Here… I didn’t, not really. I think the other authors (or even traditional romance) does a better job.