I picked up A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison honestly expecting to fall in love with this book. I’m actually a massive fan of hate to love novels so, by and large, this should have been a book I adored. I was really excited, also, to see a book like this with black characters considering the unfortunate lack of such representation basically everywhere. But, as much as I wanted to enjoy this book, the unfortunate truth is that I absolutely hated it.
All the right things written all the wrong ways.
When Tyson Trice loses the only guardian he has left, family friends agree to take him in and support him through his last year of high school. Of course, living in a rich neighborhood when he’d grown up in poverty was never going to be an easy transition. It’s especially difficult when the daughter of the couple who are taking him in is so concerned about her reputation with her friends that she doesn’t want him there. Thus, we have the set-up for
Honestly, the biggest problem I have with A Love Hate Thing isn’t really due to its premise. In fact, there are a lot of ideas involved in this book that I can oftentimes be a huge fan of. I enjoy hate to love. I’m fond of the idea that people who knew each other as kids and then grew apart fall in love when they meet again. I even enjoy the living under the same roof thing. So, why did I find this book to be so bad?
Flat, underdeveloped characters.
I had a lot of problems with the characters in this book. Unfortunately, you can have the best plots in the world but if your characters suck, chances are the book will, too. And this book didn’t even have a phenomenal plot.
Nandy is honestly just the worst. Not only is she an incredibly prissy, selfish, and stuck-up rich girl, but at times she comes of as seriously problematic. There were moments in the book that seriously felt as though Nandy was representative of a stereotype that has black people shunning and hating their culture in an attempt to fit in with and be accepted by the white people around them. That one comment she made when Trice was having hair cornrowed on the front porch was seriously messed up.
And it’s not even just Trice that she is unnecessarily awful to, either. Throughout the whole book she is basically an ass to literally everyone around her. If I recall correctly, the only person who isn’t a target for her unreasonable rudeness and rotten behavior is her little brother.
Trice is better overall, but he’s also a bit ridiculous. I understand where the author was going with him, but the way she wrote it just made every piece of his personality seem overthe top and contrived. The author knew what character she wanted to write, but not how to actually write that character. As a result, we end up with a lot of her telling us who he was without ever actually showing it. Add in the fact that most everything was awkwardly written and I really just didn’t feel connected to him at all.
And that’s sad, considering he was a writer.
Speaking of, that counselor he kept meeting with was so unrealistic, awful, and just…poorly written that I legitimately cringed every time she spoke.
That one twist.
Okay, so the plot was…fine, I guess. It wasn’t great. The love story was very forced and unrealistic. There were a lot of inconsistencies with Nandy’s feelings–less so with Trice’s–and they ended up making her into an even more awful person than she was to begin with. Character interactions were abysmal, especially when it came to Nandy’s friends. And then there was this whole side thing with Nandy’s parents being reasonable and the two teenagers having a “but we want the thing” moment that leads them to go off and act like somehow the adults are being ridiculous.
But, worst of all was that terrible side plot with Trice’s old friends. And it’s not that a plot like that couldn’t have been great and added a lot of depth to the story. Here it was just really poorly written. Paired with the fact that I generally just didn’t care about any of the characters and situations that should have been tense just…weren’t. I already knew how it was going to end with this being a love story and all, so I never really felt like there were actually stakes.
Finally, though only an annoyance, the faith piece really irritated me. See, I hated Nandy. She was awful backward and forward. Trice was okay. Guess which character was the one who believed in god, got upset when the other didn’t, and tried to push her religion onto him? Yep, Nandy. Trice, on the other hand, didn’t believe. And yet, by the end of the novel, Nandy somehow has him considering it.
I know that’s not a sticking point for a lot of people, but it is for me. It wasn’t the worst thing about the novel, by far, but it definitely wasn’t a good thing either.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.