I read Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein with a friend as a fun way to connect while we don’t get to see each other. The story follows a predictable but fun romance plot when would have been Olympic gymnast Avery reconnects with another former athlete when she moves back to their hometown and they start working together. Their shared goal to get a talented gymnast into the 2020 Olympics makes a good central point for discussion points like the abuse scandal, career and purpose, healthy relationship dynamics, and more. While these issues don’t get detailed responses on the pages, the characters, particularly the women, make positive models for how empathy and empowerment can grow when people reflect and adjust. I would have loved to see more character development there but appreciate the strong frame. Overall, it makes a quick but fun and motivating read.
Abby Jimenez’s latest romance The Happy Ever After Playlist came into my orbit thanks to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide. The quick banter between Sloan and Tucker hooked me immediately. I found myself smiling at their quips, rooting for the relationship to evolve. The Happy Ever After Playlist maintained its fun tone throughout but unpacked some weight later in the story. Seemingly small yet realistic issues came to light, showing the characters making tough decisions to balance personal, career, and relationship goals. Themes of resilience and friendship abounded as Abby Jimenez’s characters moved forward in their lives. The story made a delightful escape as I stayed home and walked through the delights involved with falling in love, stepping forward in a career, and building emotional strength after setbacks by reading Sloan’s story.
As usual, Katherine Center delivers an uplifting and sweet story in her latest release What You Wish For. Set in Galveston, Texas, the story follows school librarian Sam as she faces significant changes in her workplace, the most significant involving the reappearance of an old, massive crush. However, love worthy Duncan seems different than Sam last saw him. Together, they learn how to open their hearts to trust and love. The school changes seem not to be the only change in this story. Center alters her balance in character growth in this story, and it makes the development a little off kilter. The focus seems to rest on Duncan, and Sam takes a backseat even though she experiences growth too. That said, it still makes a sweet story and I still recommend it. Katherine Center books always get bumped to the front of my TBR pile when I get them.
This hits shelves in July, so add it to your summer reading list!
As we reach the middle point between the 17th anniversary of A Walk to Remember’s theatrical release and Valentine’s Day, let’s take a moment to appreciate its legacy. The movie would reach its senior year of high school this year if it were a person. The young protagonists in this teenage love story find themselves caught up in an unlikely love story in one of the early, and one of the better, Nicholas Sparks novel screen adaptations. Jamie Sullivan models a lived faith where she willingly helps those around her regardless of their past, and Landon Carter shows us that with support people can improve themselves.
As we walk into the month of love, let’s consider how we can show love to others, maybe even to those society brushes off as hopeless. Landon asks Jamie to run lines with him so he won’t make a fool of himself in the spring play, and Jamie agrees so the whole production won’t suffer. She gives Landon a chance to live up to his challenge. Take a look around you. Is there someone who could use a loving hand to accomplish a task or who could use the company of someone supportive? Start with showing up and being willing to help even with what seems like a small favor. Big changes happen through a series of small steps.
In (500) Days of Summer, a movie in my all time top 10, a story of boy meets girl begins on January 8. Hopeless romantic greeting card writer Tom sees the new assistant Summer and falls into a moody love at first sight. However, as the narrator informs us in the film’s introduction, this boy meets girl story is not a love story. The romantic comedy shows us a couple effects of falling into a Summer Daze.
- A sweet boy meets girl beginning does not always have a happy ending. Watching Tom notice and pine after Summer has its sappy appeal. It gets even better when they ride the elevator together and Summer tells Tom she also likes The Smiths when she overhears his music. Once they finally start spending more time together and Tom feels like he’s grasping his dream girl, Summer communicates her intention to not have a serious relationship. Tom agrees, holding out hope that she changes her mind. People often fall into this trap in real life. Tom has the facts and chooses to continue spending time with Summer at his own risk, knowing she does not reciprocate his intentions or desire.
- The meet cute always holds the most potential. When Summer and Tom first see each other, they do not know each other’s details yet. This time holds the most potential as they do not know of any reason not to pursue interest; the fantasy realm hasn’t shattered the hope that the other can fulfill the dream. Tom falls into a deeper level of interest in Summer once he learns that she too loves one of his favorite bands. He finds a detail that keeps his interest and increases their compatibility. This gives him reason to pursue more knowledge and to see if their values and relationship perspective might mesh as well, a more important factor to consider that he later ignores much to his detriment.
- A relationship, failed or successful, shows the individuals who they are. Summer finally opens up to love and accepts a serious relationship, and marriage, after she splits from Tom. Spending time with Tom helps her see a new possibility as she learns to trust others, beginning with her friendship with Tom. Tom experiences tremendous heartache, but he eventually channels his energy into developing his architecture skill to pursue his career field again. He chooses to select his own direction rather than stay in his current situation simply because life has unfolded that way. He too takes another chance on love as he awaits his opportunity to interview for his dream job. Hopefully this time he knows a little better how to navigate communication and intentions.
Today we see January 8 on the calendar. Maybe we don’t have a boy meets girl experience today. We can still consider the knowledge we have and use that to navigate our direction and choices, whether we understand the information the first time or after we fall. The best potential comes after the Summer Daze fades.