Yes And I Love You by Roni Loren
March 2, 2021, by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Review by Melinda
Roni Loren’s writing in the past has been extremely emotional and well done but her subject matter was dealing with the past trauma of school shooting so I only read one and couldn’t read the rest. The Say Anything series has just as much emotional depth but in a completely different way. First of all, I almost completely passed this by as the cover implied that it was maybe a general fiction book to me? It definitely does not say romance but many covers don’t these days and I have so many issues with romance marketing but that’s a whole other post I think! Regardless, ignore the cover and definitely give this a try.
Hollyn is a culture reviewer with a relatively big following who uses a pseudonym because she doesn’t want to be in the public eye, the main reason being that she has Tourette’s and anxiety. She’s been doing basically exposure therapy by working in a group workspace – which was such a Millenial aspect to include and I loved that. When she meets Jasper, the new coffee guy at the workspace, she wants to hole up in her office like usual, but his gregarious nature just slowly broke through her barriers.
The portrayal of Hollyn’s anxiety is incredibly nuanced and sensitively done. Her anxiety also is portrayed in a very physical way that I recognized and don’t see often. I can’t say if her Tourette’s is handled well as I don’t have personal experience with it, but it seemed very realistic from an outsider perspective. And one of my favorite things ever is when therapy is normalized, Hollyn speaks about her therapist without shame, and there’s a therapy scene on page. She has built an incredible career for herself but is trying to also have an incredible real, personal, life – and I think that this past year of being stuck isolated should maybe highlight this for people who may not understand how she feels. Disabled people, chronically ill people, or really anyone who has this experience of having to be isolated or isolating themselves will immediately recognize themselves in Hollyn.
Jasper does not have as much of a character arc, but I don’t know that both of them need to? He is an improv actor and really kind of floundering at this point. Jasper is definitely less mature and trying to figure out what to do with his life, when his sister tells him he needs to move out he doesn’t really know what to do and moves in with a friend basically for free. He’s working with an improv group and what I liked about this aspect was how the author incorporated the improv and Jasper into helping Hollyn work on adjusting to being in public and around other people. He’s working on getting a theatre for his group and making it up to them for leaving them previously. Again, he does have a character arc and I like him, but I liked him for Hollyn if that makes sense. There is some extra drama late in the book that I did not love and honestly could have been deleted completely and would have upgraded the book for me.
Hollyn is an amazing person, which is easy to see, and I think that if you don’t have anxiety or self-worth issues of your own it may be hard to understand why she would assume that Jasper would not want her. But at the same time, she has Tourette’s, so of course, she thinks that her tics would be off-putting. That made complete sense to me, when you are different in any way you think that people won’t accept that difference. Jasper accepts it without hesitation and helps her realize other people will too. Jasper, in turn, also believes Hollyn is too good for him. And through the course of the book, they both learn to see each other through the other one’s eyes. To me, that felt like true love when you have self-worth issues. I did not feel like this was a magic cure for Hollyn’s anxiety or Tourette’s – obviously, she still has both at the end! But she was on her own journey of trying to manage these things even before she met Jasper, so I firmly believe she would have gotten there on her own, with or without him.
I really love the side characters in the office space and I’m looking forward to their books as well. I’m so glad to add another positive mental health rep to my recs!
CW: depictions of anxiety, Tourette’s, ADHD; childhood neglect; references to suicidal thoughts and behaviors (not depicted)
Grade: A –
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