The BookBrowse Review

Published September 16, 2020

ISSN: 1930-0018

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In This Edition of
The BookBrowse Review

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Editor's Introduction
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Extras
  • Blog:
    What To Do When Members Come to Book Club Without Reading the Book?
  • Wordplay:
    L N Take I C
  • Book Giveaway:
    Memorial Drive
    by Natasha Trethewey
Book Jacket

Just Like You
by Nick Hornby
29 Sep 2020
368 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books
ISBN-13: 9780593191385
Genre: Romance
Critics:
Readers:
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This warm, wise, highly entertaining twenty-first century love story is about what happens when the person who makes you happiest is someone you never expected.

Lucy used to handle her adult romantic life according to the script she'd been handed. She met a guy just like herself: same age, same background, same hopes and dreams; they got married and started a family. Too bad he made her miserable. Now, two decades later, she's a nearly-divorced, forty-one-year-old schoolteacher with two school-aged sons, and there is no script anymore. So when she meets Joseph, she isn't exactly looking for love--she's more in the market for a babysitter. Joseph is twenty-two, living at home with his mother, and working several jobs, including the butcher counter where he and Lucy meet. It's not a match anyone one could have predicted. He's of a different class, a different culture, and a different generation. But sometimes it turns out that the person who can make you happiest is the one you least expect, though it can take some maneuvering to see it through.

Just Like You is a brilliantly observed, tender, but also brutally funny new novel that gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person--someone you didn't see coming.

"Filled with laugh-out-loud charm, Hornby's movie-ready follow-up to State of the Union is a hopeful balm for our unsettled postpandemic times." - Library Journal (starred review)

"Hornby is good company on the page and offers insights on his characters with aplomb, demonstrating an investment in each of their voices and an interest in the forces that draw people to one another. This is great fun." - Publishers Weekly

"The fans Hornby has won with his comely backlist—High Fidelity (1995), About A Boy (1998), How To Be Good (2001), etc.—might not change their favorite but they won't be disappointed. Hornby is as charming as ever in this nimble, optimistic take on the social novel." - Kirkus Reviews

Write your own review

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Cloggie Downunder
entertaining and thought-provoking.
Just Like You is the eighth novel by award-winning British author, Nick Hornby. When Lucy Fairfax and Joseph Campbell embark on their relationship, neither is looking too closely at the reasons, or the likely outcome: they are acting on mutual attraction, and find that they enjoy each other’s company.

Lucy, a separated mother of two, is Head of the English Department at the local high school, forty-two years old and white. Joseph does various part-time jobs including, football coaching, baby-sitting and working in the local butcher’s, is twenty-two years old, and black. When they are together, they are happy. Despite their quite disparate backgrounds, they are interested in each other’s lives, enjoy their conversations (the coming Brexit vote is on everyone’s lips), and have great sex.

Lucy’s young sons love spending time with Joseph, although there’s less of that now that he comes to spend time with Lucy instead of baby-sitting them. Because this is a covert relationship: they don’t go out. It is when the result of the Brexit vote is announced that they realize just how closeted their lives have become, and how different they really are. The relationship ebbs fairly swiftly if amicably. Joseph still babysits. They both date others. But is it really over?

The insecurities that need to be soothed with reassurances in any relationship are a little different here, taking in race, age gap and level of education: “He was just a kid. He could see that now. It was because everything was new that he was embarrassed and raw. He wasn’t established in any field, really. He’d be bringing her stuff, like a puppy, for a long time to come, and she could only rub his belly and call him a good boy until he was an old dog with no new tricks.”

The Brexit referendum backdrop allows Hornby to explore the effect of such an issue on everyday life: “Lucy understood it now. The referendum was giving groups of people who didn’t like each other, or at least failed to comprehend each other, an opportunity to fight. The government might just as well be asking a yes/no question about public nudity, or vegetarianism, or religion, or modern art, some other question that divided people into two groups, each suspicious of the other. There had to be something riding on it, otherwise people wouldn’t get so upset.”

There are plenty of (sometimes darkly) funny moments in this tale, including kids who are much more aware than their mother thinks, a mother who twigs to her son’s activities via Find My Phone, and a confession by text. As well as heading in an unpredictable direction, Hornby’s latest is entertaining and thought-provoking.

Nick Hornby is the bestselling author of eight novels, including High Fidelity and About a Boy, and several works of non-fiction including his ground-breaking debut, Fever Pitch. He has written numerous award-winning screenplays for film and television including Brooklyn, Wild and, most recently, State of the Union.

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