“Now who would be stupid enough to make you an ex-anything?”

I very nearly did not like this book at all. As many of my readers know, contemporaries can often be very hit or miss for me. It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne , despite having an interesting premise, was very much a miss. At least, it was right up until that ending. You see, the story and the characters are pretty generic. I feel like, at some point or another, I’ve read about them before. The difference, however, lies in the ultimate direction of everything.

Parental Troubles

Audrey has become a cynic. After the cheating and painful divorce of her parents, spearheaded by his father getting a much younger woman pregnant and basically ditching his family, and her boyfriend dumping her after they’d had sex once, she’s sick of romance. Since we’re a world surrounded by the lies of romance movies, it’s no surprise that she turns her ire on them.

Books like this, typically, tend to be romantic comedies that follow the young protagonist realizing that her previous experiences do not account for all experiences as she falls madly in love with someone who just so happens to be the perfect guy for her. We’ve all seen the movies, we’ve read the stories. Even Audrey has, as accounted for by her newfound annoyance with the films. I was over the moon about the fact that Bourne flips this expectation on its head.

My Fear

Honestly, my biggest fear going into this was that Audrey would end up having all her love problems fixed by forgiving the people in her life who hurt her. We see this happen time and time again and cheating is, ultimately, treated so cavalierly as if it doesn’t even matter because “love.” And there are numerous instances of this with varying changes.

It’s kind of obvious early on that something bad is going to go down between Audrey and the new love interest, Harry, who helps “heal” her from her past bad experiences. As they flit through the frankly incredibly boring day-to-day moments of their lives, they fall in love and experience conflict. Honestly, everything outside of this plot including Audrey’s school, friends, and experience in drama that lands her the leading role in Harry’s zombie film are pointless and irrelevant filler.

The real story is deeper than that, encompassing intricate feelings that surround her perception of her parents divorce, mother’s alcoholism, father’s insensitivity, and her relationship with Harry, whom almost everyone warns her away from. And really, the big takeaway I get from this book is that love isn’t like the movies. We should never aspire for it to be like the movies. And, at the end of the day, the best thing any of us can do is take care of ourselves and our needs before partnering with others.

And those who hurt us don’t necessarily deserve our forgiveness.

I Loved that Message

It Only Happens in the Movies is not the love story you think it might end up being. It’s somewhat of a cautionary tale. The book is shameless in warning its readers that falling for the façade of love films often give us is not the blueprint for love we should be following. In essence, life is messy. Love is messy. And we all do our best to navigate it.

I could not be more supportive of Audrey choosing herself, making the healthy decisions rather than the in the moment emotional ones. We delude ourselves often in this world and make terrible decisions based on how we feel. To recognize in oneself the things they need to live an emotionally healthy lifestyle is a skill so many of us, myself included, lack. And I could not be more excited to see a book with a main character so mature and aware that she’s able to recognize those needs and act on them.

I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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