The contemporary romance novel that’s actually about burnout

When I picked up Shauna Robinson must love books a few months ago, I expected to be swept up in a fluffy romantic story revolving around the world of publishing. Although I had all the romance, accompanied by endless book discussions, what took me by surprise was the silent examination of the prevailing Gen Z and millennial worker burnout. today and a nuanced portrayal of living with depression at this age.

must love books is a contemporary novel that revolves around Nora Roberts, an editorial assistant working at Parsons Press whose endless love for books predictably leads her to work at a publishing house. But after five years of menial work, she begins to realize that the whole idea of ​​a “dream job” was just a myth. With more and more employees and pay cuts, high rent and her growing inability to pay her bills, Nora plunges into ethically murky waters when she decides to moonlight for a rival publisher in order to join the two. ends. In the midst of this stress between Andrew Santos, a Parsons best-selling author and the current publishing hotshot. Suddenly, everything in Nora’s world begins to crumble.

Romance, though widely considered a frivolous genre, has never shied away from incorporating difficult subject matter, but what made this novel stand out was Shauna Robinson’s mature writing that came with a nuanced but astute perspective on current metropolitan culture. There’s a constant undercurrent of loneliness that has followed Nora from the very beginning. Once the chatter of the novel’s intrigue-laden first third ends and her character’s internal ruminations begin, it’s hard not to catch up to the fact that our main character suffers from depression – something that her job and his financial stress are not. giving him space to occupy himself, which in turn puts all of our previous assertions about his character up for reassessment.

For example, what was presented as his fiercely pragmatic attitude towards life suddenly begins to appear as the grim result of living in a 21st city ​​of the century and dare to pursue your dreams without anything to rely on.

As Nora takes on another job to pay her bills, her search for an expression of her love for books never ends. Nora wants to edit fiction novels, and although she has worked for five years as an editorial assistant, she rarely gets the chance to edit a book. Workplace hierarchy and small office politics place countless obstacles in his way. With no mentors in place, an ever-increasing threat of losing her job as staff cuts increase, and a rapid loss of all motivation for the publishing world, Nora’s depression begins to take over.

This all-consuming stress of being able to survive each month is only ever paused in the scenes with love interest Andrew. Unlike many romance novels that present its main leads as unrealistic and overly direct about their intentions, Shauna Robinson presents Nora and Andrew in an ultra-realistic way. Their conversations – getting to know you, tiptoeing to get more information from the person – their body language around each other, every detail of their budding romance seemed realistic and a natural progression of their characters. And while they technically knew these two would end up together, professional boundaries and determining what might be a conflict of interest kept their conversations tense.

Andrew’s undying optimism contrasts wonderfully with Nora’s internal cynicism, but neither falls into the grumpy trope of sunshine. Robinson resists stereotyping them and instead gives us an empathetic portrayal of two adults living on opposite ends of the financial spectrum, but both coping with loneliness in their own ways. Even from a narrative standpoint, Andrew works as a great love interest, as his positive yet practical outlook on life has worked as the perfect foil to showcase Nora’s growing depression.

The passages of Nora just trying to Do not think and the struggle to see the beauty in life brought out the melancholy of these scenes with precision, but often these scenes were followed by an interaction with Andrew, the only character, whose words managed to reach him. The non-glamorous portrayal of a love interest simply trying to support without turning into a savior was another pleasant surprise.

Even after sketching out these complex subjects with the depth they deserved, Robinson ensures that must love books is by no means a disadvantage. It has its humorous moments, and while some romance readers were disappointed with the romance in question receiving the subplot treatment, I think it was that exact decision that made the romance so compelling. As Nora quickly wears out, Andrew is her only respite from the stresses of life (even though it’s a big part of her job), and their conversations are her main focus. While for Andrew, after moving to a new town where he has no friends and is mostly surrounded by people older than him at work, talking to Nora and finding intelligent, like-minded company in it functions as an obvious point of relaxation.

Robinson presented the simplicity of an adult relationship in all its mature, peaceful glory and effortlessly incorporated it into the increasingly unstable house of cards that is the plot, showing confidence in his writing skills and his great understanding of how to construct a narrative. must love books is a solid start and a remarkable addition to the contemporary genre.

Shivani Yadav is a fashion and film writer.

The featured image: Tangerine Newt / Unsplash

Comments are closed.