At first glance, “Book Lovers” by young adult author Emily Henry seems like an ordinary cliche romantic comedy. But Henry’s novel explores all types of relationship dynamics, including but not limited to romantic relationships, through her captivating writing and layered characters.
“Book Lovers,” Henry’s sixth novel, was published last May, but The New York Times bestselling author had gained considerable popularity before from her other romance novels such as “Beach Read” and “You and Me on Vacation.” “Book Lovers” found popularity after being on TikTok during the summer of 2022.
Nora, the female lead in the novel, spends much of the story working on her relationship with her sister, from whom she has felt distanced. The continuous plot line drives much of the book and helps create an emotional attachment to the characters.
Nora and her younger sister Libby are not as close as they used to be as they both lead busy lives. Nora works long hours as a literary agent, while Libby is a dedicated wife and mother of two children. To help repair their relationship, they agree to go on vacation together to North Carolina.
Nora and Libby have fun throughout the novel, but there is always a little bit of tension as a result of the secrets they have been keeping from each other. One of the biggest bonds is that their mother died when they were both young. Nora, being the older sister, stepped up to fill their mother’s shoes for Libby, always protecting her and putting her first. Now grown women, Libby reveals that Nora’s constant protection is what makes her feel the need to create distance.
Libby feels guilty about how much Nora has given up for her and wants Nora to act like her sister instead of placing herself in the role of their mother. The reveal is very impactful. In the book, Nora always tries to fix things for her sister, even when she is not asked to. She never considers what Libby wants her to do and acts on her instinct to protect her sister at all costs. She took on the role of their mother while grieving and was never able to let go of it. Both sisters deal with the fact that grief changed their relationship and they both have to try to understand each other to fix it.
Of course, there is also a romance going on throughout the novel. The love interest is Charlie, an editor who initially meets Nora at a work-related lunch. They hit it off and don’t see each other again until Nora bumps into him in North Carolina. It just so happens that Nora and Libby stay in his hometown. They bump into each other a few times until they form a solid friendship, a key aspect of what was so fun about their romance.
Granted, the romance is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. But their friendship throughout much of the novel and the tension felt while reading is what makes their eventual relationship feel believable. It doesn’t feel rushed, which is a common fault in rom-com style books and movies.
Nora and Charlie really get to know each other and help build each other up. They are working on a book together when one of Nora’s clients ends up needing a new editor. The progression of their work together adds humor to the book and brings in entertaining banter.
One of the most important relationships in this book is probably Nora’s relationship with herself. At the beginning of the book, she is very set in her ways. She does not allow herself to branch out or consider any possibility of change. She struggles to prioritize herself.
But Nora goes through a lot of emotional growth and it shows at the end of the novel. She learns to be vulnerable with people and process the emotions she has suppressed since her mother died. Nora opens up to new possibilities and, for once, learns to accept help from the important people in her life.
“Book Lovers” does a great job of emphasizing personal growth while also showing the importance of having loving and reliable relationships in your life.