Source: egalley from publisher
Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.
There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.
Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.
Hannah’s surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.
Are you in a hurry? No time to read a probably incoherent and spazzy review from me? Then, just this. IN REAL LIFE was blurbed by Emery Lord, the goddess that brought us Matt Finch from Open Road Summer and Max Watson from The Start of Me and You as far as book boyfriends go. Emery Lord, the goddess that brought us such awesome female friendships in both books. I think that speaks volumes on who’s gonna love this book right from the get-go (everybody! because we all love Emery Lord’s books, right?!) and how amazing it is. SO GO READ THIS ONE NOW AND MELT INTO A PUDDLE OF GOO ON THE FLOOR AND GET DIZZY NODDING YOUR HEAD YES TO ALL THE ONLINE-IRL WISDOM.
But if you want to read about me squealing, then let’s get right to that!
First, props to diversity! Hannah, the main character, is Korean (so her sister Grace as well) and her best friend Lo is Mexican. YAY! But aside from the diversity, I love all the characters. And I mean, ALL. There is no villain in here because everyone is dimensional and lovely and kind. This is more of an internal conflict novel, where Hannah has to grow and push herself to do something to get what she wants. To admit to herself what she wants. WHICH IS THE BEST KIND, IN MY OPINION, AS FAR AS CONTEMPORARY NOVELS GO. We witness so much character growth in Hannah that I came out of this novel so proud and beaming for her.
Hannah was this control freak who didn’t actually takes control of her life. She’d get irritated when things get out of her control but then she just lets people decide for her for hard decisions and then when everything falls to shit, she runs. OH, HOW MUCH DO I RELATE TO THIS. I’m an escapist and I run from things and I could so relate to this attribute of Hannah. Some people might be frustrated with some of her actions in the novel but I never felt any of that because that’s what I’d do too if I was in her shoes. Run and run and run. Blame others. Have a pity party. This is me. So reading about Hannah getting over her fears of being wrong and being rejected was a different thing to me altogether. I felt like: I CAN ALSO CHANGE AND DO THIS. I can be my own Hannah. I can stop running and start taking charge of my life. So to say that this was a personal read is an accurate description of In Real Life for me. And that’s only the first part.
The second thing I relate to the most is the online vs IRL relationships shown here in the novel. I love my IRL friends but I also have online best friends that I love and cling to and need in my life. My IRL friends told me that they think what I’m doing, which is compartmentalizing my life, is hard. Especially when I only have one Instagram account but then, that’s not the topic here. But I like it that way. I don’t like IRL people to know I blog not because I’m ashamed of it but because I like that I can be free on my blog and be ~myself~ and no IRL people judging me. IRL people know me differently and we might say that my online friends know me better than them. But we know that’s not exactly true too because my online friends don’t know everything about me IRL. It’s always gonna be a different side of me you’ll see and that’s how it’s gonna be always because I’m a Scorpio. Ha! Anyway, in here, Hannah has an in-real-life best friend in Lo and an online best friend in Nick. And I just nodded so many times and agreed at how well Jessica Love dissected both IRL and online relationships.
Lastly, and probably the part where I’ll get the most incoherent of all, is the romance. HELLO, NICK COOPER, WHERE CAN I GET ONE OF YOU? He’s so sweet and just, he’s so perfect for Hannah. And Hannah for him. I’m just a puddle of melted goo with these two and that ending?!?!?! HELLO, KIDS, MWAHAHA I am enjoying here. Okay, that sounded creepy. Anyway, Nick just gets Hannah and Hannah gets Nick and they’re just so adorable and lovable and while I wish there were more kissing and physicality to it (HAHAHA), I’ll just imagine they lived happily ever after doing sexy stuff in the future. OMG I AM BLUSHING. Nick and Hannah have such an amazing friendship too (lies aside because they were because of feelings like love but not admitting it), I just had heart eyes all the time.
So apparently, that wasn’t the last thing I loved about this novel. DUH. It couldn’t be just three. Anyway, I already mentioned how I love all the characters, right? But I didn’t mention yet the relationships among these characters. In Real Life features so much positive female friendships that I was all GO GIRLS. Not to say that Hannah, Grace, and Lo didn’t have their own fights but the thing is, they fix it. It just shows such a beautiful and fun picture of sisterhood (Hannah and Grace) and friendship (Hannah and Lo) and even new friendship with a person who we expect you to hate (Hannah and Frankie). I seriously dug how Hannah wants to hate Frankie so much but Frankie is like the nicest person EVER so she can’t because she knows there’s no reason to hate her. How mature is that, okay?
In Real Life has put itself in the list of my favorite contemporary romances of ever, with its amazing characters, shippy ship, omg-I-so-can-relate-to-everything, and omg-yes-yes-yes all around it shows. I will be reading anything by Jessica Love from now on and I think it’s time to get to her backlist, Push Girl, which has a main character with a disability. And if In Real Life is any indication, Jessica Love writes with such honesty, packaged in a very readable book. I highly recommend In Real Life to all contemporary romance lovers. THIS ONE YOU HAVE TO READ!