Hi everyone! I hope you’re doing well! I want to start off this post by saying thank you for all the love you showed yesterday’s post! I spent a lot of time organising it so I’m really glad that you found it helpful! Today I’m here with a review for what was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021, and for which I was so lucky to receive a physical ARC copy, but sadly fell a wee bit short of my expectations!
Title: Love & Other Natural Disasters
Author: Misa Sugiura
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult
Synopsis: When Nozomi Nagai pictured the ideal summer romance, a fake one wasn’t what she had in mind.
That was before she met the perfect girl. Willow is gorgeous, glamorous, and…heartbroken? And when she enlists Nozomi to pose as her new girlfriend to make her ex jealous, Nozomi is a willing volunteer.
Because Nozomi has a master plan of her own: one to show Willow she’s better than a stand-in, and turn their fauxmance into something real. But as the lies pile up, it’s not long before Nozomi’s schemes take a turn toward disaster…and maybe a chance at love she didn’t plan for.
A couple of years ago I listened to an audiobook of Misa Sugiura’s second novel, This Time Will Be Different, and absolutely loved it. In fact, it was the first audiobook I ever listened to, and I loved it so much that I now own a special edition signed hardcover of it! So, of course, I was dying to read Misa’s third novel which is also her second novel with sapphic main characters, especially since it features the fake dating trope which is one of my favourites. Plus, just look at that gorgeous cover! But sadly, it fell a little short of my expectations.
I’ll start with the things I really enjoyed in this book – because I definitely don’t think it’s a bad book, more of a case of it’s me not you (you being the book in this scenario!). Misa Sugiura’s writing style is really funny throughout the book and I actually snorted with laughter at a few of the main character’s lines while reading. I absolutely loved reading from Nozomi’s point of view and seeing her hopelessly romantic daydreams about girls she has crushes on! Speaking of girls she has crushes on, I loved just how gay this book is! Both Nozomi and the love interest, Willow, are sapphic, and as you can probably tell from the cover, there are two more secondary characters who are also sapphic, one of whom is more masculine, which we don’t see all that often in YA! Nozomi’s uncle, who plays a big part in the book, is also gay and lives with his husband and they’re really sweet together! The discussions on sexuality and coming out to your family were also so important. As someone who is going through a similar situation to Nozomi and is terrified of even speaking about anything relating to being queer around grandparents, it was so so comforting to read about it (though I do wish we’d got a bit more closure on that storyline). Back to the diversity, another thing I loved about the book was that every single main character is a person of colour. Nozomi and her family are Japanese and Japanese-American, and so is one of the side characters, Willow is Taiwanese-American, there is a Black side character, and even Nozomi’s uncle’s husband is Filipino-American! I don’t think I’ve read a YA contemporary where there were no major white characters and it was so refreshing to see!
Finally, and honestly once you hear about this one, you’re definitely gonna see why I’m dedicating a whole paragraph to it. This was definitely for the sapphics. I’m sure we’re all well aware of that photo of the two girls where they’re lying on a bed and one is putting make up on the other, right? I think you can see where I’m going with this one. There is pretty much this scene several times throughout the book and it is…wow!! Iconic!! Misa Sugiura didn’t have to do that but she really said sapphic rights, and in Pride Month no less!
But sadly, now is time to move onto the things I didn’t love so much about the book. First up is the romance. I love the fake dating trope. I’m relatively new to it but I love seeing the characters slowly realise they have real feelings and then the tension that arises from that, but I just didn’t love it in this book. Now, I know for a fact this is going to be a me thing and that other readers are going to love the relationship dynamic in the book, and I do really love what Misa Sugiura was trying to say with it and how the book ended, but the whole time I was reading it I just felt so sorry for Nozomi who was getting her heart trampled all over! The characters in general I also found to be pretty flat – I couldn’t tell you one thing about Nozomi and her interests and the only thing I could say about Willow is that she likes makeup…that’s it. It was a wee bit disappointing. And finally, the ending was just a bit…I hate to say it…rubbish. There were so many loose ends that we never got answers to, particularly regarding the storylines with Nozomi’s family, and I felt so let down. But I do want to say, particularly regarding that last point, but really for them all, that I did read an ARC copy and so these things may have changed in the final copy!
That being said, this was a super quick contemporary read with wonderful representation and witty prose that I am so glad I read, and I hope that my personal gripes with the book haven’t turned you off from reading it too!