Synopsis: Alex is an outsider —a geeky fangirl—with dreams of becoming a playwright in a city she’s loved from afar yet never visited: London. After a devastating betrayal she heads to England for a new start in a place she feels like she’ll belong. Except there is no way to escape the demons of her past, the broken relationships, the panic attacks, and a jealous rival determined to destroy her new life. Alex begins to question everything from her life-long dream to her new friends to whether London is where she truly belongs.
Setting: There is no doubt this novel is set primarily in London. This jolly ol’ city is so big that, despite living there for two years, I did not see some of the things Alex does or explored all the same streets. At times I was able to picture what Alex is seeing perfectly based on the description and because I had been there myself.
Writing Style: It would be hard to set a story in London without Britishisms popping out, but anything a non-Brit may not know is clearly explained so the reader can understand what is being talked about. My only difficulty is when someone would be talking the next paragraph starts with an action beat and that same person would continue talking. This structure is confusing as normally a new paragraph is a new speaker. I had a reread a few conversations to figure out who was saying what.
POV: This novel is written in third person, so we get more than one perspective on what is happening. However, this sometimes happens in the middle of a scene that started with the main character, goes to someone else, and then back again.
Plot: To escape a less than satisfactory life, Alex moves to London in attempt to follow her dreams. If this hadn’t been so similar to my own experience a little over two years ago when I travelled for the first time in my life to England, I’d think it a bit improbable. While there are some “too good to be true moments” –particularly in comparison to my own tri– it is the ending we all want for Alex.
Character Development: Some other reviews called Alex weak because she has panic attacks from anxiety. I will admit a couple of times I was giving a mental “Really?!”, but I found Alex to be quite realistic. Despite how brave I am alone in my room with a book, had I been in the same situations I would likely react in a similar manner. I don’t have an anxiety disorder nor am I prone to panic attacks, but I saw a lot of myself in Alex and completely identified with her experience… I have endured pretty similar situations as she does during my two years of living in London.
Romance: Let’s just say I would snap Mark up in a second, as I’m a sucker for Irishmen. Add in a bit of Harry, mix well, and you’ve got the perfect man! Both these men are great boyfriends with very different relationships. Alex’s relationship with Mark started slow and kept stalling because of Alex’s insecurity, Mark’s workaholic ways, and both having an inability to step up. However they finally overcome the obstacles to be adorable. All I can say is that I need to get a job in theatre if that’s where guys like these are hanging out!
Quote: “Maybe the best inspirational quote is actually your own.”
Verdict: There are some flaws in the writing, but what debut novel doesn’t have some? Overall this is a great book! Alex is a strong female character despite her imperfections, the boys are delish, and the story is real. I identified strongly with Alex after having travelled myself, but anyone who hasn’t travelled can know what it’s like to move overseas just by reading this novel. I am really looking forward to Jacquelyn’s next book!