By: Holly Bourne
I hate men.
So the novel starts. April goes into far greater detail than I will here but suffice it to say I was a little worried at the start of the book. And I was completely unsure what to expect, as I heard of but never read Holly Bourne before this, and maybe I didn’t get what I thought I would.
But I got a good and interesting read.
First off I received the book from the publisher through Netgalley. Much appreciated but it didn’t change my opinion of the book in any way.
Second: Trigger warnings for rape, discussions of rape and assault, and PTSD.
Our main character April is a trying to deal with the trauma of her abusive relationship and rape all the while working at a charity part of her job includes answering emails from people who are dealing with the same things. A fact that can and does trigger her at times.
And this was a really interesting part of the book for me. I especially liked how Bourne dealt with it. The shows of support among the staff and the use of the psychologist and therapy to help them deal with their work as well as their commitment to it. Also the trauma boxing. Also the physical aspects- I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that talked about the bodies on-going response to a past trauma.
Bourne really seems to have done her homework here.
You can come to understand April’s point of view not just in her own past but when she’s faced with emails like oh yeah I woke my girlfriend up having sex with her and I don’t understand why she’s upset. I think Bourne also deals with the “not all men” line very well. April truly doesn’t hate all men but she’s got all this going on and she really wants to be in a relationship and have a boyfriend and it’s not that easy.
Because in her experience men don’t want the emotional baggage but cool and perfect women.
So she’s starts pretending she’s the “perfect” woman a chic called Gretel and naturally she meets a guy she really likes.
And that’s why Pretending is kind of hard to classify because with April and Joshua I kind of got this romantic comedy 10 Things I Hate About You vibe conflated with these very serious issues. I think Bourne walked the line for me like 75% of the time. Another character in the book April’s roommate is presented as a career woman who has it all together at the beginning of the book because she’s given up on relationships but then almost immediately goes out one night solely to get laid and starts falling into all her usual patterns and things go where you expect which made me seriously wonder…
Considering all the stuff in this book what is wrong with the idea of being alone? Especially when “alone” just means not in a romantic relationship. Maybe you just need time to work on yourself? To recover and heal? But that’s a rant that could last until Thanksgiving.
So to make a long post shorter (to late) I liked Pretending and I’m glad I read it. But it’s definitely not going to be for everyone and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just like there’s nothing wrong with not being in a romantic relationship.
Recommend: Overall Yes
But keep in mind the trigger warnings and the fact it’s definitely not going to be one for everyone.