Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review: GOOD ON PAPER by Jennifer Millikin

Aidan Costa was the son of a romance novelist; Natalie Maxwell was the daughter of a preacher. Two teens that carry mythological expectations because of their parents (a romance novelists son would be the most romantic boyfriend and a preacher’s daughter would be the good girl,) but nothing is like it seems.

Years later, newly divorced Natalie is still reeling from the demise of her marriage, but, fortunately, she still had Aidan’s friendship. The two still share their witty banter, comforting gestures, and hearty laughter. They worked, but, at the same time, they didn’t work (her being a hopeless romantic with reticence on sex; and him not believing in love and just having fun with strings of one-night stands.)

“On every surface, in ways only eyes can see, they looked like a match made in heaven. They fit together.  But underneath,  geometry  doesn’t  matter. Below the surface is where it gets messy.” (17) Just because it seems perfect, it doesn’t mean it is.

“When all you can see are external characteristics, you can begin to match them up like puzzle pieces.” (94)

The problem with Natalie was that she was too focused on the Happily Ever After, on that untarnished, everlasting love. But Aidan knew that it wasn’t reality. He needed to help her realize that to get her to write her book and move on with her life.

I liked the authenticity of it. Life is not a fairy tale with princes on clean, white horses. Life has stale pumpkins with dirty rats. Aiden is simple and honest, which is what I liked most about him. He’s there for Natalie, but he doesn’t handle her with kid gloves. Like him, I don’t believe in this nauseatingly perfect HEA love (to be quite honest, I don’t really believe in marriage either.) The notion of a “romantic love” is definitely a heavy issue, one that regresses past trauma in both characters.  I certainly don’t get sappy over this romantic love, but what endeared me most was the foundation of friendship between Aidan and Natalie.

The relationship between the two characters is thoughtful, genuine, and achingly raw. Why not them indeed?

Well-written and full of emotion, story is a depiction that true love is not “a tidy, romantic experience to come  in  a  cute  box  with  the  pale , pink , silk  ribbon  wrapped around it.” (18) It engages the reader and entices to look beyond what’s “good on paper,” to get past the “pretty” and “perfect,” and see that everything doesn’t have to fit. The author certainly knows how to keep the reader hooked.

A perfectly imperfect novel!

My rating: 4 stars

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