How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days gets a millennial makeover
Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy, internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he’s not sure he wants her to dump him.
Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who’s focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she’s determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.
Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other.
If you loved How to Lose a Guy in 10 days and decide to pick up this book, two things can happen: you either going to love this hard-edged gender-swapped retelling, or… you are going to quietly put it aside, get comfortable on the sofa and get ready to re-watch Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson spin their magic tale.
As I am a kind of girl who always chooses a book over a movie and did not swoon over the original rom-com, so I was actually quite open to whatever Andie J. Christopher was going to make out of the original story.
The first chapter left me a bit perplexed: the main character Hanna Mayfield seemed so angry and aggressive about the whole dating/non-dating issue and menfolk in general, while being understanding and supportive with her extra-feminine friend Sasha. Hanna definitely had the qualities I like: she was fiercely loyal and independent, and yet, so confused about what she wanted.
Hanna’s ex-boyfriend Noah, who I never forgave until the end of the book despite the author’s best attempts to give him some redeeming qualities, had an issue with Hanna being biracial (not black enough to make a part of a power couple), Hanna being too spontaneous and honest (not good enough to make a good wife for a lawyer or a politician). Noah told her she was not a kind a girl a guy would marry, and Hanna…believed him.
Two years later Hanna, who has been on an extended dating hiatus ( I think it’s a great idea for somebody who needs to clear their ideas), accidentally meets Jack Nolan in a bar. They click, and even share a spectacular kiss and a few cute puppy pictures the day after that, but it’s clear that, given the fact that neither of them wants to date at the moment, they are not going to give in to the chemistry and attraction they feel for each other. Until… Hanna’s boss challenges her to find and keep a boyfriend for two weeks to prove she can do ‘romantic’ if she wants to get out of planning sports events and start organising weddings. Plus, Jack’s boss gives him a new assignment: to write a how-to article on losing a girlfriend in two weeks.
Here is the thing. The original movie already had the whole gender stereotype inverted. It is usually us, girls/ women, who do our best to please our dates to keep the guy, hoping for a white wedding some time in a not so distant future, and it is men who still have an upper hand in the dating game. That’s why the movie was so funny. Here…we revert back to the old traditional gender role behaviour, no matter how much we might hate it? Jack is supposed to be a good guy whose girlfriends keep dumping him, although he always puts their needs first. What he really needs to do is work out why they keep doing it. And he plans to do it by agreeing to do everything to lose (and hurt) Hanna, who he professes to like, to prove to himself that he can put his career first ?!? Complicated, to put it mildly.
The book is engaging, although I kept asking myself the big question any reader asks about the characters: can I relate to them? yes, I had Hanna’s experience of a toxic relationship that made me think hard about what I wanted from life and whether I wanted romance at all. Plenty of people also share Jack and Hanna’s story of having divorced parents, and growing up without one of the parents being present in their life. What I found the most interesting and authentic in the book was Hanna’s reflections on her identity and the role it played in her romantic history.
I am left with mixed feelings about this re-telling, but I’m sure there are other readers who are going to like it and be entertained by the trope of a fake relationship that grows into something more.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.