Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

Book Review

Title : Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

Genre : Contemporary Romance

Author: Christina Lauren

Publisher: Piatkus

Date of Publication: September 4th 2018

Number of Pages: 320

My Rating : 4 out of 5

I bought this book after reading The Unhoneymooners, which I found engaging, delightful and full of humor. I’m always on the lookout for new authors to read, so when I come across a good book, I invariably check out all the author’s other books.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating did not disappoint, well, not totally. Hazel met Josh Im at a party in college, where she promptly vomited on his shoes – immediately after propositioning him.

Almost a decade later, Hazel is attending a party at her new best friend’s house, only to discover that Josh is the brother to Emily, her best friend.

Josh is a physical therapist with his own business whilst Hazel is an elementary school teacher. Sensible careers right? That’s where their similarity ends. Josh is smart, neat, easy going and calm, whereas Hazel is loud, has no filters, does ridiculous things and is a hot mess.

Whilst Hazel thinks Josh is the blue print for perfect, she strongly believes that he would never date her, due to some catastrophic encounters they had in college. And sadly, it was not just the vomiting.

This does not stop her from declaring that they are going to be best friends. She reckons that since she is undatable, there is nothing to get in the way of their developing a close relationship as best friends. No harm done, right?

Josh thinks :– it might be fun to have her around. Like keeping interesting beer in the fridge that you’re always surprised and pleased to find. Okay……

The two start hanging out together and the rest, as they say, is history.

In as much as Hazel is quirky and a little weird, she is also warmhearted and full of energy. Unfortunately, most men are not able to manage her energy and find her behavior embarrassing.

Given the history these two have from college, I find it a bit strange how when Hazel proclaims that they are going to become best friends, Josh accepts so easily. This despite finding out that Hazel had not changed at all.

I tried really hard to appreciate Hazel as a character, but sadly, I could not fully empathize with her. Right from the start when she described herself as ‘lazy and broke’, among other things, there was zero indication of her wanting to improve herself. Am I being as judgmental as her former boyfriends? Maybe.

I’m all for one accepting oneself as they are, but surely there is room for character development and growth? More to the point, Josh is her polar opposite, the perfect character with no flaws. Whilst commendable, is it really realistic? Is anyone really perfect? Yet somehow, these two end up together, as one would expect in a romance.

But I suppose that’s the premise of the whole story, how such diverse characters can find love and how no one is ‘undatable’, we just need to find that one person who understands us and accepts us for who we are, quirks and all!

This is also an interracial story, as Hazel is American and Josh is American Korean. Though there are no major interracial issues brought out in the story,  we do get to see a bit of Korean culture, especially on family dynamics and relationships.

The book was interesting enough to keep me engaged. I found it well written and easy to follow. The authors use first person to narrate the story, switching from Josh to Hazel.

I liked this style of writing as I got to know what each of the lead characters was thinking throughout the book, making it easier for me to connect with the story. I liked The Unhoneymooners more, but this one is good as well.

Due to the above, I rate this book 4 out of 5 and recommend it to lovers of contemporary romance novels. Hazel may be hard for me to take, but some may find her endearing…….

Do you think it’s possible for ‘polar opposites’ to find lasting love together? Let me know!

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