Review #43: Fiction
First to Read #2
When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri
This was, for the most part, a really fun read. It’s a classic meetcute style romance, told from both Katie’s and Cassidy’s perspectives, adding some much needed LGBTQ+ voices and stories to the genre.
I loved Cassidy as a character. She’s really fleshed out and I felt like I knew her and really related to her, maybe a bit more than Katie. Katie is a well-rounded character, with a lot of relatable qualities, and I’m sure many readers are able to see themselves or someone they know in Katie, which goes a long way for character development and audience engagement. However, I felt like Katie was a bit generic, very cookie-cutter in some ways. She’s a pretty, blonde, blue eyed southern belle that moved to New York for a taste of the big city and success. Though Perri does try to set her apart, giving her a real job that takes real brains and ambition and we’re told that Katie isn’t like the typical southern girl…she still feels like it. But because of Cassidy, and her character’s depth and layers, Katie is held up in the relationship and the story. Together, Cassidy and Katie work in a way Katie alone would not. Their love story is a fun one to read and watch unfold, to root for, and to worry about when the inevitable turbulence comes.
My only grievance with this book is Katie’s back story. At the start of the book, she has just been dumped by her fiancé for another woman. Very, very recently — only a weekend before meeting Cassidy in a meeting between her company and Cassidy’s. Obviously until this point, Katie is a straight woman, and meeting Cassidy after her break up makes her question that, and eventually she and Cassidy get together. Katie never really confirms she is a lesbian, but simply says that she doesn’t know if she likes women, but she likes Cassidy. This confusion is actually understandable and one of the more real aspects of Katie as a character. My irritation comes from Katie having been wronged by a man, VERY recently, and then meeting a woman and starting a lesbian relationship.
On the surface this isn’t so bad, but it tends to feel like Katie’s story perpetuates the concept that lesbians hate men, are just women who have been hurt by men, and therefore, in response to a man forsaking them, swear off men forever. It’s as if, had a man not burned Katie, she would never have “become” a lesbian. She also reexamines the female friendships in her life, wondering why she felt so possessive of them, why she loved them so much, and decides that maybe she had romantically loved them subconsciously and was then jealous of them when they entered relationships with men. This, again, perpetuates a negative stereotype of gay women, promoting the idea that gay women cannot have platonic relationships with women — they must be in love with them, want them sexually, they cannot be just friends.
Katie, a women in her late 20s, is also completely clueless about sex, and not just sex between two women. She is written as a wholesome, innocent, southern woman, but it’s mind boggling that a women in her late 20s, who has been in New York for years, and was engaged to be married, was completely blindsided by sex toys and books with sex tips, and, honestly, had no inkling of what might go on in the bedroom between two women. She had no understanding of her own wants, or needs, or sexual desires, her likes or dislikes. For a book written in present day, maybe I’m being optimistic, but I don’t find a nearly 30-year-old woman with no sexual knowledge whatsoever to be believable.
Cassidy, on the other hand, is brilliantly written. I wanted to be her, I wanted to be with her, I wanted to know her. She’s so relatable, so real. I feel like I know several Cassidy’s and that Cassidy is part me. Her struggle with settling down, her confusion about being with a “straight” girl, her walls and defense mechanisms, and her backstory explaining it all is pure perfection in character development. More so than Katie, Cassidy grows as a person through this story. She truly knows herself and makes positive changes because Katie enters her life. She recognizes her faults, she addresses her insecurities, she peels off her layers and lets love in, and I was cheering for her start to finish. Cassidy embodies the idea of loving the skin you’re in, being unapologetically yourself, for you and for no one else. She was who she was, you like it or you don’t. She has not hidden agenda, she just knows who she is and in the end, could not be more proud.
Even with my few issues with Katie as a character, the love story that Perri writes for her and Cassidy is cute, playful, turbulent, and in the general sense, real. It was so refreshing to see an LGBTQ+ love story that showcases a character questioning her sexuality and finding herself and highlights different ideas of femininity and masculinity.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I received access to an e-copy of this book for this review.