Trigger warnings: domestic abuse (physical and mental)
When thirty-something Chloe Brown is nearly hit by a car, she is suddenly struck with the painful realisation that her life is, indeed, unbelievably boring. Following this brush with death, Chloe resolves to move out of her family home and dares to be brave, constructing a list of all the things that scare her so she can ‘get a life’. When her building’s bad boy superintendent Redford Morgan gets in the way, however, Chloe’s ‘get a life’ list takes on a life entirely of its own…
I so badly wanted to love this book, but unfortunately felt disappointed after all the hype I had seen around it. In the ‘about the author’ passage at the end of the book, Hibbert explains that she ‘believes marginalised identities need honest and positive representation’, and this certainly jumped out in every page. Chloe Brown, a black woman with a chronic disability (fibromyalgia) doesn’t succumb to the road blocks life has thrown in her way, and it was refreshing to see such strong representation of marginalised voices in one character.
My sole issue with this was that Chloe’s characterisation became entirely about her disability, and as someone who lives with a chronically ill family member myself I was a little disappointed. Chronically ill people are so much more than their disabilities, and whilst Chloe did, ultimately, ‘get a life’ I would have liked to see her character fabricated of more than just her illness. That being said, I loved that Hibbert made an effort to shine a light on invisible illnesses and the daily physical and mental struggles that accompany them.
Whilst there were certainly elements of the story that I loved, I found the writing style itself felt a little forced and unnatural, particularly a lot of the dialogue. As I read I kept finding myself questioning: ‘does anyone actually talk like this?’… and the truth is, they don’t. As a result, every time I found myself getting invested in the story I was drawn out of it again by an odd phrase or weird comment that just didn’t make any sense to me.
There is still a lot to love about this book – it explores some incredibly important themes and Red and Chloe both overcome a lot of personal barriers. They really do bring out the best in each other, and the steam rating between them is off the charts (seriously… this book is NOT PG!), but ultimately I was left feeling a deflated when I finished. Definitely a case of being overhyped by Instagram!