A funny, bitter-sweet romantic dramedy set to an 80’s soundtrack.
The problem with first love is that it never truly dies.
Libby London fell in love in with the 80s, came of age in the 90s, and now, in the 21st Century, she’s completely falling apart… Her New York City fashion sensibility is more ‘vintage tragedy’ than ‘retro babe’ and might just be what’s holding her back in all matters of life and love…
At least that’s what her well-meaning friends think. They’ve staged a #80sIntervention in an effort to bring Libby bang up-to-date. But how do you move forward when the one you love holds you in the past? Between her dreaded birthday party, friend’s madcap ambush, and being forced to relocate her Pretty In Pink thrift shop, Libby’s nearing the end of the rope… If her therapist isn’t quick, it could be a literal one.
I know I said I’m not really doing ARCs, but since I have a Kindle now and I’ve been reading more ebooks my #1 reason is invalid, so I figured I might as well try this netgalley thing the cool kids have been talking about. I requested Holding Out for a Hero in exchange for an honest review (thanks Pan Macmillan) and now it is my duty to pester you until you read it too, because it’s wonderful!
I had less luck with previous ARCs, so I’m lucky to say that I LOVED this book. Let’s get the superficial out of the way first: how beautiful is that cover? I’m pretty sure 60% of the reason I requested this was that the cover design is relevant to my interests. Now to the content…
Libby London is stuck in the 80s. She dresses like an 80s girl, owns an 80s store and is still hung up on her first love, who she met – you might have suspected it – in the 80s. To propel her to the 21st century, her friends stage an #80sIntervention (hashtag included) and send her on five dates to force her to move on: The Brain, The Athlete, The Criminal, The Princess and The Basket Case. She has the support and the opportunity to move on, but it’s up to Libby to take the final step.
Holding Out for a Hero reminded me of two very different books: Ready Player One and Confessions of a Shopaholic. Ready Player One because there are as many 80s movie and song references in Holding Out for a Hero than there are gaming history references in Ready Player One and Shopaholic because the book starts out light and seemingly superficial and then picks up pace and surprises you in the end. It’s described as a “romantic dramedy” and, while the romance is certainly there, it was more the chocolate sauce on top of an already delicious dessert (let’s be real – who wants a cherry when you can have chocolate sauce) than the focus of the book for me. The description might make you think this is a light book about a girl’s fashion sense spiced up with a bit of dating fun, but it’s more about healing and finding out who you are than fun date stories. But you’ll get those too.
The beginning of the book dragged a little for me, but once I realized what it’s actually about I fell in love with it. I guessed the big reveal, but the book still surprised me in the end, and I generally loved how it handles mental health, therapy and romance. Just because there’s a guy doesn’t mean he solves all the problems (okay he does a little, but more in a supportive way than a curing depression by smiling way) and just because Libby’s friends can be judgemental doesn’t mean they’re not good friends overall. Even though I guessed what happened to Libby to traumatize her so much, the book was more about how Libby dealt with it than about guessing the mystery.
I liked that Libby was intelligent and capable, but the reader is shown rather than told, and I liked the guy, because he’s just genuinely nice. I liked that Libby owned her own store and was in turns capable and proactive and in denial about what was happening to it. And most of all, I liked that, when Libby did something stupid, like judge people without getting to know them, she was called out on it and apologised. And trust me, if you grew up in the 80s, you’ll want to get out your leg warmers and Breakfast Club DVD (or find a VCR if you want to keep it authentic), because you’re going to feel nostalgic.
Holding Out for a Hero is an insightful book about finding yourself, healing, and dating in the 21st century while wearing shoulder pads. There’s also a parrot. 4.5 cupcakes from me!