After catching her fiance in The Act with some hussy at her best friend’s wedding, writer Angela Clarke can’t escape London fast enough. It’s as though a decade’s worth of anger, confusion and suffocation has exploded to the surface as she boards a plane bound for New York City. With no real plan of action, Angela checks into a hotel and immediately befriends Jenny, an aspiring life coach who works at the front desk.
Armed with a new buddy and the endless possibilities that come with being a stranger in a strange land, Angela gets a makeover, begins to hang out with Jenny’s stylish friends and begins to think about life beyond her immediate pain. It doesn’t take long for her to meet not one but two gorgeous — and different — men, both vying for her attention. And when an unexpected break comes for professionally, she has to make a big decision: continue building her life in the Big Apple, or hurry back to England. And it won’t be as easy she thought.
Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart New York was an entertaining — if predictable — novel about a young woman’s late blooming. Though our main character is hardly a teen, it read like a coming-of-age story; Angela’s awakening to life beyond Mark, her stodgy and boring ex-fiance, and the hum-drum life they’d formed together.
Knowing how much I’ve hated other OMG-let’s-go-to-New-York-and-change-our-lives novels, I can tell you that it’s quite a shock for me to be writing . . . a positive review for this one. Well, a semi-positive review. Because I’m in an interesting situation here, friends: despite the fact that many aspects of this book had me shaking my head, I actually . . . liked it. But with caveats, as outlined below.
See, everything in I Heart New York felt totally implausible to me. To say that life just happens to Angela — so easily, so effortlessly — is an understatement. At more than one point in the book, I let out this condescending chuckle, like, “Really? Really, it’s that simple?” For example, the fact that Angela has been in New York less than 24 hours before meeting Jenny, the woman who becomes her BFF 4 Life and later shares an apartment with her. It’s pretty convenient that Jenny has an opening to completely take over Angela’s life, rearranging her grief and anger at Mark into something bordering on productive. Oh! Oh! And how about a friend of Jenny’s who can hook her up with a contact at a very popular women’s magazine . . . and said magazine happens to have an opening for a blogger? A dating blogger. And Angela? Angela’s dating. Two dudes at once, in fact, and she’s a writer, y’all. So she’s perfect for the position.
That pretty much made me want to vomit, yes, considering that I’m a columnist, too. And though I might have fallen into my position, it really irked me that Angela’s columns — and they weren’t terribly funny or entertaining, by the by — became this overnight sensation. Totally, totally unrealistic.
And the guys she’s dating, Tyler and Alex? It’s the classic bad-boy/good-guy tripe, pitting one against the other. Tyler can give her wealth and stability, lavishing her with expensive gifts, while Alex, a musician, has the hot emo skinny-jeans thing going on. Despite all her back-and-forth about what to do, it was obvious who she was going to pick — and I didn’t blame her. What I did find fault with was the fact that both men apparently knew about Angela’s dating blog and didn’t care. I mean, girlfriend was writing a blog — about them, their dates, hinting at their sex life — and neither of them seemed concerned. Um, what? As someone who routinely writes about her life in a variety of public forums, I’ll say this: dudes are a little hesitant to have you write about them. Just a little.
See what I mean? Unrealistic.
But, to my surprise. . . um, you know? I liked it. Kelk’s writing was funny and endearing; Angela, for all her ridiculousness, was a character I enjoyed reading about and rooted for. Even though her life became just so picture-perfect and awesome, I didn’t begrudge her that. Lord knows our girl went through some tough times to get there. The book flowed seamlessly and featured realistic dialogue — even with the unrealistic plot twists.
Also, New York really functioned as another character in the novel. Seeing the city through Angela’s eyes was a treat, especially as she grew used to American customs and the Big Apple’s cultural landmarks. She fell in love with New York just as she was learning to love herself, and that was an important lesson. By the final page, I did feel as though Angela had undergone a great change — an instrumental part of me enjoying any book. If I feel like characters haven’t evolved by story’s end, I feel cheated. And annoyed.
This book was pure candy for me: sweet, non-filling, enjoyable. I turned each page and was wildly entertained by Angela’s misadventures, which equaled a pretty fun romp to me. Lovers of chick lit and British women’s fiction will find likely enjoy our heroine’s story — as long as they can suspend disbelief for about 300 pages.
3.5 out of 5!