Just Like You by Nick Hornby | Literary fiction, romance or social commentary?

Nick Hornby is one of those authors I always wanted to read more. Right after finishing «About a Boy» and «Slam» almost 10 years ago I intended to read his other books, but never got around to picking them up. Seeing his new novel on NetGalley, «Just Like You», made me incredibly happy! Not only because I knew I was going to enjoy the prose, but also because “tender but also brutally funny” sounded exactly like something I’d love!

I need to warn you though that this blurb is very misleading. On one hand, it does capture the bare bones of the story, but on the other hand, it makes you believe things that are not actually in the book. It made me wonder if I would have noticed that the main characters had “nothing in common” without reading the blurb.🤷‍♀️

goodreads blurb:

The person you are with is just like you: same background, same age, same interests. The perfect match. And it is a disaster.

Then, when and where you least expect it, you meet someone new. You seem to have nothing in common and yet, somehow, it feels totally right.

Nick Hornby’s brilliantly observed, tender but also brutally funny new novel gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person – someone who is not just like you at all.

Thank you NetGalley and Viking, Penguin General UK for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the company or its affiliates in any way.

At first glance, «Just Like You» seemed to be a light-hearted romance, full of funny moments and witty jokes (I love Nick Hornby’s humor!). But after reading further and further, we start to see many other facets of this book and its thought-provoking take on the Brexit referendum 2016, racism, and interracial relationship.

Social aspect aside (for now), this is essentially a romance between the two characters no one would have paired together. As you know, I’m not a big fan of romance. It was never the genre that appealed to me, even though I do find some hidden gems (*cough* «Beach Read» *cough*) from time to time.

Nick Hornby writes incredible stories, be it romance or not. He always tries to explore different sides of human nature, of our personalities, and seeing them clash in his books is a very captivating experience. 

I mentioned earlier that the blurb is slightly misleading and I stand by this. Reading the blurb, I was expecting a bigger contrast between the two main characters, and yes, the age difference was a big factor, but overall, I don’t think it was the main thing that stood in their way. There was more attention to prejudice and what others might think

Besides this attention to the differences between the characters, their relationship lacked some tension. And while there were conflicts throughout, their resolution felt too easy (almost too emotionless?) I didn’t want a full-on drama, but I needed a little bit more spank and battle from both of them to truly believe in their feelings. 

There is not a lot I can say about the characters to not spoil this part of the story, but if you’ve read this book, I’d like to know what you thought about their relationship. 

I haven’t read any books about Brexit so far, but I know that it has become a popular subject in books and understand why some people might be getting tired of it. However, for me, it was a new topic in books and I was interested to see different positions Nick Hornby’s characters took when it came to voting to stay in or leave the EU. 

What I found even more interesting was the fact that we couldn’t see Nick Hornby’s opinion on this subject. More often than not authors tend to “pollute” their books with their own opinions which can result in poor characterization or condemnation of one view over another. 

In «Just Like You» we had so many different characters, from different age categories, different backgrounds, different financial positions, different races – and it was interesting to see the debate that sparked amongst them.  

My rating:

«Just Like You» brought back the memories of experiencing Nick Hornby’s books for the first time, and while it’s not my favorite of his, I definitely recommend it to everyone who is not yet tired of novels involving the Brexit. Short, funny, and entertaining, this was a perfect book to spend my weekend with. 

Have you read any Nick Hornby books? Which one is your favorite?
Let’s chat in the comments below! 

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8 thoughts on “Just Like You by Nick Hornby | Literary fiction, romance or social commentary?

  1. Great review, Alex! I’ve never read anything by Hornby before but I’ve seen this cover around quite a few times lately and it always catches my eye. I don’t know why I’ve never been pulled into reading his books (since there are a lot on Kindle Unlimited!) but I’m intrigued by this one. Your comment on the blurb has me curious!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband gifted me a set of Nick Hornby books a few years ago for Christmas, but sadly I’ve only read High Fidelity. I need to read the others. Especially About A Boy. I’ve avoided the movie until I do. 😉 This one sounds great, too!


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