Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her “good girl” persona, so she’ll try Eddie on for size.
New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the “good girl” stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.
Enter Eddie Wells. He’s shallow, predictable…and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie’s bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.
FTC Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
“You Before Anyone Else” has the honor of being the first “fun” book I read after my hiatus began. And while I probably shouldn’t have been accepting any ARCs during exam time, it was just what I needed to take away some of this testing anxiety.
Not another good-girl-meets-bad-boy story
I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical when the synopsis hinted toward the “good girl becomes rebel” cliché that too many authors have been using as a reason for character development lately. I’m just tired of the implication that being “good” is boring and that change automatically equals becoming a wild child.
Finley, at first glance, is definitely a “good girl.” When a casting director asks her what she does for fun, she answers truthfully: knitting, watching movies with her 15-year old roommate and fangirling over an actor in those movies. I can’t speak for everyone, but Finley sounds a lot like me.
By default, that makes Eddie the “bad boy.” The one-night-stand. The person who helps Finley find her better, cooler self. Except for the fact that he’s not bad, they run into each other way to often to be one-night-stands and he has plenty of soul-searching to do himself.
Finley and Eddie are a wonderful complement, supporting and loving each other without directly influencing each other’s choices. Their relationship is immensely important in their mutual need for someone who unconditionally supports their changes. Still, their change as individuals is personal not shared. The ultimate theme of the story is doing what is best for oneself, which means neither sacrificing oneself for a loved one nor sacrificing the loved one. It’s a great theme tucked among thousands of other novels that indirectly teach readers that the love of another is the only thing needed for happiness.
I think this quote from the authors’ note sums it up the true gem of this book:
“You Before Anyone Else” is both a title and a message to those who need reminder that their voice deserves to be heard.
A much lighter companion to “Halfway Perfect”
“You Before Anyone Else” is set in the same world as “Halfway Perfect.” Characters from the latter make cameos throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed the glimpses of Eve and Alex’s now-stable relationship and seeing how Eve has grown as a photographer. Elana, the under-aged model from “Halfway Perfect,” also makes appearances as Finley’s roommate. Somehow, I can imagine another novel about Elana. I would love to see her grow into a mature young woman with a love interest who is her age.
Cameos and fashion industry aside, the two books are completely different in plot and tone. After the heavier conflicts in “Halfway Perfect,” I found myself slightly disappointed in the more mundane conflicts presented in “You Before Anyone Else.”
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with a light, fluffy romance. It just seemed odd paired with “Halfway Perfect,” and I found much of the storyline to be predictable.
And, to be honest, I am really tired of the teen pregnancy trope (highlight to reveal spoiler).
“You Before Anyone Else” is a quick read with a delightfully adorable romance, and the “moral of the story” is one that everyone should take to heart. Though it is not as dramatic or heavy as “Halfway Perfect” and has predictable moments, it is a fun companion that makes me want Julie Cross and Mark Perini to co-write forever.