Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Fellow former (and current) English majors: I don’t know about you but it feels like I read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight a million times & any time (ok the *one* time) I see it mentioned in a book now I get a little dorky thrill of excitement ;) .
Jenny L. Howe’s The Make-Up Test comes hard with the literary references, the excitement over academia & thesis arguments, & the insecurities that lifestyle can breed.
It also offers a second chance romance story between two mid-twenties PhD students who first dated for 8 months in undergrad before the hero, Colin Benjamin, dumped the heroine, Allison, after betraying her academically.
Present-day Allison isn’t a Colin Benjamin fan, but Howe does capture how much he’s grown in two years & how he’s been tempered somewhat by his life experiences.
Allison does some of her growing on the book’s pages, as she navigates difficult family situations & another big blow-up with Colin, but in general she sometimes comes across as a little immature for me.
The Make-Up Test starts off strong but then gradually loses some of that with the conflict, which was a little 🤔, the hasty resolution, & then the lack of an epilogue. That always makes me feel not totally secure about a couple’s future.
There’s a lot to appreciate about this book—including its nuanced portrayal of Allison as “a fat woman,” as Howe writes in the Author’s Note, existing & flourishing in a space that often vilifies fatness (as the book makes it clear)—but overall the last part of the book leaves me a little unsettled.
Still, I think this author’s worth checking out & I’ll celebrate women in academia every day of the week.
3⭐️. Out 09/13.
Give me that HEA, please.
Join my mailing list.
Want to receive a weekly email with links to my latest blog posts? Sign up below!