- 304 pages
- St. Martin’s Press
- April 2023 Release
- Love Story
- Contemporary/Literary Fiction
- Mental Health
- New Adult
Adelaide by Genevieve Wheeler is a love story, but it’s not your average romance.
At twenty-six years old, she doesn’t exactly have her life figured out. Adelaide is an American, living abroad in London, finishing up her graduate degree when she meets Rory Hughes. Rory’s a charming Englishman straight out of a Disney fairytale. He’s incredibly handsome, he’s got a fabulous accent, and he’s *tall.* It’s enough to make her American friends jealous.
But it quickly becomes apparent that Rory isn’t exactly the English gentleman in the Victorian classics Adelaide’s read. Instead, he often flakes on plans, doesn’t respond to text messages or calls, and struggles to call her his girlfriend. Yet, when he can commit to these Adelaide, she’s sure that he’s The One.
When Rory’s world is overcome by an unexpected tragedy, Adelaide will be left to hold Rory together. But who will take care of her? This raw and honest fictional story is based on real-world experiences that so many readers will be sure to connect with.
When Adelaide initially came out (it was my Book of The Month pick for April), I wasn’t entirely excited to read it–even understanding it’s importance. After reading Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us, I wasn’t sure I’d ever pick up another book about abusive relationships again (if you want to read that review click here). Though, this one had a content warning, so it was already better in my book *pun intended.*
I do have to admit, though, that the cover of this book draws you in–and it also has a specific writing style to it that is very comfortable and easy. I liked that about it. It quickly captivated me.
I think the thing I really loved about this book was that so much of it was real and raw. It was honest. Anyone who has been in an emotionally abusive relationship will read this book and 100% GET what Adelaide is going through. While Rory doesn’t call her names or throw things at her, or even hit her or force her to have sex–there are aspects of this relationship that are entirely uncomfortable and far beyond the lines of miscommunication.
Though, Adelaide, being IN the relationship, doesn’t get that. She isn’t going to. I think readers (most anyway) are going to feel frustrated by this. But in reality, this is how it is–being in love with someone and not realizing how damaging it is, how badly it’s affected you. Wheeler did an excellent job writing this aspect of the story and weaving together a plotline that was believable, and ultimately, healing for readers like me.
That being said, there were parts of this book that I didn’t like.
First off, I was entirely frustrated with the mental health aspect of this novel. Wheeler waits until the last 1/3 of the book, after Adelaide breaks it off with Rory, to reveal that Adelaide is diagnosed with Bipolar. The thing that really aggravated me about this is that it almost discounted the ups and downs of the way Rory treated Adelaide. Adelaide’s feelings were very real, and anyone in her relationship would feel the roller coaster of emotions she felt–not just someone with a Bipolar diagnosis. I think adding in the diagnosis was a cop out. Adelaide could have checked into the hospital for depression or anxiety–anyone can have these symptoms after this kind of relationship, without having an official DSM code, if you catch my drift. I didn’t like that Wheeler immediately turned to Adelaide having “ups and downs” or “acting irrationally” (these are actual lines from the book) as ANY aspect of this story. It all felt very cliche and forced. It reads a lot like those novels that specifically put in a scene with a creepy male doctor commenting on the female anatomy…just because they can to make a statement. Even though authors can, doesn’t mean they should.
Then, there’s the romantic ending. I think we can all agree that Adelaide deserves a better ending that Rory Hughes. But. As someone who’s been through this scenario, who’s dealt with the healing process, who’s gone to therapy–jumping into a relationship with Bubs? Commmmmeee on. What this book needed was Adelaide finding herself, growing. She had a little bit of that, towards the end–but it needed to be taken a step further, and that step further was NOT by giving her a happy ending with Bubs. I absolutely hated this. It was so trite and it made me want to gag. She deserved a better ending. Let her move to Paris or something like one of her friends, and live out her Times Editor dreams. Don’t make her settle down with yet ANOTHER man. Ugh.
Okay, so it’s no secret that there were some big things in this story that bothered me. I didn’t like how mental health was portrayed here (and as someone with actual mental health issues, I’m allowed to say that). The romantic ending was also a no-go for me. It felt rushed and Adelaide deserved better. But, I also thought there were some other smaller aspects of this book that were weird. It’s clear Wheeler has spent a lot of time in the UK. The narrator feels distinctly English and puts very non-American words in Adelaide’s mouth, which is super weird. Then, there’s also the random fact that her friend’s baby was almost exactly named after Princess Diaries? Mia Demopolis/Mia Thermopolis anyone?? Wheeler definitely is a Disney fan, that much is clear.
Initially, I was going to rate this book 4 to 4.5 stars because of how real and raw the relationship with Rory was. I haven’t ever read anything like this so I do give Wheeler a lot of credit for that. It’s clear that either she did a lot of research, or she was in a relationship of her own that was similar to Adelaide’s (which seems more likely to me). So, all in all, I’m not going to give her too many points off. I think she did a great job with most of the book, and honestly maybe she just has a tough editor. Who knows? As far as debuts go, this was a strong one, and it’s a solid 3.5 stars for me.
So, the question comes–Do I recommend this book? Ultimately, yes–I do recommend it. I liked it. Cassidee at FanFiAddict says it reads a lot like Sally Rooney, so if you’re a fan of her, you might like this one. Personally, I would have liked to see Wheeler push herself a little further, but I also understand the hesitation to do so. Overall, I think it’s a good read, and it’s an important one. I say read it.
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