Waiting for Tom Hanks

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Review #46: Fiction

First to Read #5

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey

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I really wanted to LOVE this book, because I honestly can’t get enough of rom-coms or Tom Hanks, and maybe having such high expectations has something to do with it, but I definitely only LIKED this book. It hits all the right rom-com notes, and for that I loved it (and rounded up from what I feel is a 3.5 star book). However, the main character fell flat for me, and I was much more interested in all of the surrounding characters and their side stories than I ever was about Annie and the main story arc.  The interest I have for Don and his Dungeons and Dragons cohort, for Chloe and Nick and their (in not just my opinion but the opinion of the main character herself) much better rom-com love story, for Annie’s mother and all of the interesting things we learn about her by the end of this book, even for Annie’s bad date who eats bagels out of the trash…far outweighs the interest I felt for Annie.

I think my main grievance with Annie is that she is supposed to be this romantic comedy expert, moving through life trying to find her Tom Hanks (not the man, but the character he plays in all his rom-coms) but she seems to be the one who least recognizes the rom-com plot devices around her. She is oblivious to the main tenets of a rom-com as they are happening—the meet-cute, the unexpected love interest, the big misunderstanding, the grand gesture to seal the love deal. Throughout, it is Chloe, her best friend, who needs to point out all of these things as they are happening. She also comes across as very, very young and naive when she’s meant to be nearly 30. She reads as sheltered and inexperienced in the world. We learn something about her mother, which is shocking, but Annie acts as if it’s the literal end of the world. She sees an article in a gossip magazine and throws a tantrum. She behaves as if, at 30, she’s never had a single dating experience. I suppose maybe this could be true, but at this stage in life, I find most women have some knowledge of what dating and relationships are like, even if they haven’t been in many. Annie makes mistakes and assumptions and does things I could believe of a 23 or 24 year old, but I found hard to assign to a 30 year old.

Drew, the leading rom-com man, was great. I, however, did not understand why he was supposed to be the unexpected love interest. His description as being a Hollywood jokester—this unserious, immature, playboy—didn’t land with me. If anything, I thought his attempts to stay out of the limelight and away from the paparazzi and the gossip columns made him more attractive. I didn’t see why Annie had such an aversion to him.

One final, very specific thing that bothered me was that Annie absolutely HATED that Drew called her Coffee Girl when in nearly the same breath she would fawn over Tom Hanks referring to Meg Ryan as Shop Girl in You’ve Got Mail. The fact that Annie, the rom-com connoisseur, did not make the connection is too unbelievable.

I liked this because it is a true rom-com, the cast of characters outside of the leading roles was phenomenal (there was a true family of friends created), and all of the small nods to the rom-coms of the past (Tom Hanks-lead and otherwise) were nostalgic and fun. The writing was light, and it’s a quick read that flowed well, but when the main story arc and the main character are the least enjoyable part of a book, it’s hard to do better than “like.”

My rating: 4 (just barely) out of 5 stars.

I received access to an e-copy of this book for this review.

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