I’m not sure why it took me so many tries to actually pick up Waiting for Tom Hanks (see review here). I guess it is because I’m not normally a romantic comedy reader. Viewer, yes, I have a slew of Rom Coms on DVD and Blu Ray, but don’t generally read them. But I enjoyed Waiting for Tom Hanks enough for it’s supporting characters that I couldn’t wait for the sequel, Not Like the Movies, because it was about said supporting characters.
I will say this about Not Like the Movies: you don’t have to read Waiting for Tom Hanks first, but it certainly helps with the character development. They are fully formed in this book. Chloe and Nick had to be my favorite characters from Waiting for Tom Hanks, especially Chloe. But in this book, which is Chloe’s story, my favorite character is Nick, the coffee shop owner.
Chloe Sanderson works in Nick’s coffee shop, goes to business school online, tends to her dad, who is in assisted living for early onset Alzheimer’s, and is helping her best friend, Annie, with her wedding preparations. Chloe’s been used to doing everything by herself since her mom ditched her family when she was ten, leaving Chloe to take care of her twin brother, Milo, and do lots of chores moms do because her dad is so devastated.
Chloe and Nick have some serious rom-com banter going on. Chloe has been attracted to him for ages, but it has been a purely aggravating, platonic relationship until now. See, Annie, Chloe’s best friend and the main character of Waiting for Tom Hanks, loves romantic comedies and through her fiance’, Drew, a sitcom star, gets her screenplay made into a movie. The title: Coffee Girl. That’s right. After years of watching Chloe and Nick banter, she wrote a movie about them. She’s even unoriginal enough to name her characters Zoe and Rick.
There’s a lot of buzz about the movie because it is going to premiere in Columbus, Ohio, as a favor to Annie. And apparently she’s told everyone that the movie is based on real people, so Nick and Chloe are constantly being contacted by the gossip columnists and articles are appearing based off the trailer, which has created a lot of buzz. It has also made things between Chloe and Nick awkward.
Chloe’s brother returns to town with his boyfriend and that brings along more complications to her already complicated life. Chloe is so used to doing everything for herself that she is afraid to ask her brother to step up and visit their dad more often. And besides everything else she is already doing, she offers to bake pies for the wedding reception. Pies are her thing. She hopes to own a bakery some day, and prepares bars and cookies every day for Nick’s shop, and is constantly experimenting to try and create the perfect pie.
There’s this slow burn to Nick and Chloe’s relationship, which I think is a good thing for her. In Waiting for Tom Hanks, Chloe was rather casual about her relationships with both men and women, so the fact that in Not Like the Movies, Chloe and Nick are tentative with their relationship is a healthy approach. Although, as a reader, I kept hoping something would happen sooner, a lot sooner than it actually did.
Being a rom-com, complications develop with their relationship, complications develop with her brother’s lack of responsibility towards their dad, complications arise between Annie and Chloe because Chloe reveals she’s not so crazy about a movie being made about her life. Chloe actually schedules 5-minute crying periods every once in a while because she has no time for a real breakdown. But as Annie’s wedding gets closer, and she and Nick get closer, she’s having a lot of unscheduled crying sessions.
And just as aside, what’s up with all the rain in this book? Every time you turn around, it is raining, and most of the time Chloe does not have an umbrella, so she’s wet, her makeup is running (hasn’t she heard of waterproof eyeliner and mascara?), and she’s miserable. Does it really rain that much in Columbus, Ohio? Because if it does, I probably don’t want to visit it!
The culmination of Chloe and Nick’s relationship happens at Annie’s wedding, of all places, where Annie has given her permission to execute The Grand Gesture towards Nick that is found in every romantic comedy. Nick responds accordingly, and all is right in the rom-com literature world.
I like Not Like the Movies better than I liked Waiting for Tom Hanks because I liked the characters more. And what I found interesting is that Annie, the character I didn’t like so much in Waiting for Tom Hanks, makes a great supporting character in this book.
I’m trying to figure out which characters could be in a sequel to Not Like the Movies, or if the well is dry in the Tom Hanks cannon. I’d definitely line up to read the next one, though, if it ever happens.
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