I have read a lot of romance books this year, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that there is a distinct difference between white protagonists and BIPOC protagonists. Where the white heroines tend to be twenty-to-young-thirty-somethings having a mid-life crisis and trying to find themselves in their mediocrity (and tend to spend the book out of work, lounging about trying to stay busy), the vast majority of the BIPOC heroines are highly successful, constantly proving themselves, and well, over-qualified in every way.
It’s…an interesting observation.
Maybe it’s just the books I’ve been reading, but it’s what I’ve found.
Anywho, here are two mini reviews of books with white heroines who…don’t really do much at all but I guess ultimately find their purpose (and love).
She’s Faking It by Kristin Rockaway
Bree Bozeman is stuck in a rut. She dropped out of college, her slacker boyfriend dumped her to find himself religiously (or some such shit), and she needs to pay the bills…stat, because she can’t manager her finances or her life. But when she whimsically creates a new Instagram account to hone in on her dreams, she opens herself to a world of influencers—and finds some downsides.
This was…less a book about influencers and more a book about delusion. Bree was just an annoying character all around. You wanted to root for her, because she was down on her luck, but she kept lying and putting herself into bad situations. She loved living next to the beach but was terrified of the water. She loved imagining herself being happy and wealthy and rich, but didn’t really do anything to get there. She worked a lot of gig-jobs, but didn’t go out to try and get a full-time job for…whatever reason I don’t remember.
The instagram stuff was more about her curating a lifestyle that was founded in retweets and fakeness instead of her actual life, which made since because she was trying to reinvent herself, but her thinking she was an influencer due to her followers (25k of which were bought, the others were some really crappy brands) and her (and her sister’s) tenuous ties to a self-help guru…and I just. Hm.
The love-influence was just as lackluster as the rest of the book. Trey was boring, and had more than enough red flags in his past that were never addressed fully.
Never addressing anything fully was definitely a flaw within this book. It wasn’t the laser-cutting critique of the fakeness and frivolity of influencer lifestyles and the grifting nature of self-help gurus, but rather a limp and bland look at one white girl’s life as she continued to fail upwards. Even the Big Moment with the self-help guru was…lackluster, as was Bree’s eventual realization of her purpose, where again, she failed upwards into a job that helped her find her dream that had only been hinted at previously in the book.
However, it was engaging, despite me wanting to kick Bree into the sun about 90,000 times during the course of the book. I just wish that it had hit its criticism a little harder.
Wild at Heart by KA Tucker
Calla Fletcher returned to Toronto from Alaska a changed person—so changed that she was determined to go back to Alaska for her newfound love, Jonah. But Alaska isn’t exactly what she imagined, and her life isn’t quite where she wanted it to be. With Jonah off into the sky more than at home, can Calla find a life of her own in Alaska, or will she retract her mother’s footsteps and head back to the city?
A Simple Wild was a book that charmingly slithered its way into my soul. I was not prepared to like, much less thoroughly enjoy, a book about a privileged, spoiled rich girl getting in touch with her father in rural Alaska.
This book took all of that charm and growth and threw it out the window.
Okay, that was a bit harsh. It didn’t quite do that much, and despite my irritation with everything about Calla, I really, really loved all of the secondary characters. They were the ones who stole the show. The secondary characters slipped into my heart and stayed there, particularly Oscar the wolfdog and Bandit the raccoon and the nosey neighbors determined to get Calla to see her place in this area.
However, this book was less about Calla finding her place (she eventually stumbles into her niche in the marketing world, which was annoying because she spent hardly any time honing her skill it) and less about her grudgingly learn to garden, grudgingly live in an area she didn’t want to, whining about mosquitos and bears, and happily blowing her inheritance on useless crap. She spent most of the book decorating her house, which felt like more of a Pinterest wish-fulfillment than real life. The girl spent literally all of her free time online shopping, something Jonah rightly criticized her for but he’s not without critique himself as he spent 90% of the book focused on his own desires and taking her for granted.
I think my one main complaint about Calla was that she had no drive and no desire to really do anything except complain. She had willingly followed Jonah to Alaska, but didn’t seem to do much networking on their business (he found the opportunities and took them). I dunno. Maybe I’m misreading it, but it’s not like she had a lot of drive in the other book as well, despite having so much potential to get out there and kick ass and actually change things.
However, the secondary characters made this book almost get to four stars, despite my near-constant irritation with Calla and my desire to tell her to buck the fuck up already.