Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, NetGalley, Romance

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

our stop

Nadia and Daniel ride the 7:30 train to work every morning…well almost every morning…ok only sometimes because Nadia is a hot mess and never makes it to work on time. One morning, Nadia catches sight of an entry in the Missed Connections section of the paper describing her, written from a man who sometimes sees her on the 7:30 train. Feeling bold (and desperate), Nadia writes back. Thus begins the story of an almost meet cute and the magic of falling in love.

Our Stop is basically a millennial You’ve Got Mail – the author’s inspiration is evident even before the obvious references from Nadia. I love You’ve Got Mail. I thought I would love Our Stop. I wanted to love it so badly. The idea is wonderful – I was so excited about a weird pen pal relationship through the newspaper between two people whose lives keep intersecting without them knowing. I am a sucker for a good romcom, and I am a millennial — I am the prime target! But man, I did NOT like this book.

My main problem is that Our Stop is *too* millennial. It’s millennial catnip: the tale of a sexually liberated and chronically irresponsible Girl who has a tech-y job (yay women in STEM) and a romantic mama’s Boy who is in touch with his feelings, sees a therapist, and most importantly, is very WOKE. There are constant references to millennial “things” – social media, diet and exercise trends, dating apps…it’s all a bit much. The writing is even too millennial to the point of distraction. Why were there so many Random Titles and Capitalization and way-too-many-hyphenated-things? It felt like a Buzzfeed article in book form.

But none of that compares to the outright PREACHINESS. Like I get it, you’re liberal, you’re woke, you’re a feminist. Every page had some sort of lesson in consent, Brexit, emotional vulnerability, gender fluidity – I mean chill out. If someone like me, who generally agrees with the author, was turned off by all of this, I cannot imagine how difficult this book will be for less “woke” people.

And I admire the author’s intent, truly. Literature can and should inform cultural morality. (Not to divert from the matter at hand too much but…) Many philosophers have written of the importance and effectiveness of this sort of moral education from art, and Edmund Burke coined the phrase “moral imagination” to describe it. Why it is so effective, however, is because we do not always realize we are being instructed. Human nature is more receptive to instruction when we are not slapped upside the head with it. So, a child may learn to be brave by watching Mulan’s bravery more effectively than she would by hearing a lecture on the importance of being brave. In the same way, if the author’s wish was to inform and instruct dating culture of the importance of, for example, consent, a better way to do so would have been in a less obvious way than a direct lecture from a (male) character that bordered on mansplaining.

But back to the review –

Aside from the writing style, it just took way too long for Nadia and Daniel to meet. I was literally skimming pages after about 85% through thinking, “Hurry it up already.” Not a good sign.

Despite my strong distaste for the style of this book, I want to say again that the idea of the story is so entertaining and so good. And I think a lot of millennial women will disagree with my harsh analysis and love this summer read. While I personally can’t give this book more than 2 stars, I am sure I am in the minority and it will do just fine.

(Thanks to Avon Books UK and NetGalley for the ARC.)

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