I’ve tried starting this review at least eight times. I start with a cliché…delete. I start with a synopsis…delete. I start with a star count…delete. I start with a quote (then realize the ARC says I can’t quote)…delete. I start with a book memory…okay, let’s start there.
Many of my friends will say that their favorite book by Colleen Hoover is Hopeless. I remember Hopeless. I remember loving Hopeless. But it wasn’t until Maybe Someday that a Colleen spark lit inside me. And then I had to devour everything else by her. I mean, who would think a story with a love triangle would become my favorite romance of all time? But, as you know, it’s so much more than that. There’s a depth to it. There are layers. There are flaws. And because of which, there is a realness to it.
This is what I love about All Your Perfects. There’s a depth and there are layers and flaws. There’s a heaviness to it. It’s not something to be feared. Rather, just go with it. Let yourself process. Digest what you can. Don’t rush.
My reading experience with AYP was different from any other book I’ve read by Colleen. I had to read it in chunks. And, no, it’s not because one of us is a faster reader. It’s not because I didn’t make enough time during the day. It’s not even because I was trying to savor it. It was out of necessity. Because this book will stretch you. It will make you see things in a new way. You may have preconceived ideas, but in typical Colleen fashion, she will spotlight the shit out of them so that you have to—you have no choice but to—see something else. And it is truly illuminating.
For me, personally, this was a story of healing. I learned something about myself, my husband, my marriage. Colleen has no idea who I am, but she got me. And she’ll get a lot of you too. Because that’s what she does. She tells stories that are real, even if they’re hard to write, even if they’re hard to read. And it’s because of her truth-telling that I too have to tell the truth: All Your Perfects is all kinds of perfection. Come July, you may have a new favorite CoHo book.
What. The. Hell. Is. In. My. Eye?
For the record, I don’t cry. Not because I am some unemotional freak or because I am too macho to cry, but because I normally process emotions in a different way. I can feel emotional; it just doesn’t usually come on as actual tears. When I was little, I remember my dad always yelling at us to “turn it off!” anytime we cried. I’d be in the midst of the ugly cry when I’d babble out, “I don’t have a switch,” as I’d put my hand on my temple, proving there was no switch to turn it off with!
I can think of only a handful of times post-puberty that I have gotten choked up reading or watching something. I got teary reading The Fault in Our Stars when it first came out and of course while watching Rudy—I mean, I’m not an animal! Who doesn’t get choked up watching all those players give up their jerseys so the little guy can dress during his final game at Notre Dame?! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Anyway, I say all of that to say this: I totally cried reading this book—and not in a way that I could play off by pretending I just yawned. I had full on tears and bubbly snot. There’s a good visual for you. Bubbly snot.
Ok, so then the question is why? Why did this book affect me so much more than anything else? I think it’s because I connected with the story. Not in a “those characters are relatable” way, but in something much deeper. Having been married for 10 years, I am intimately aware of all the work needed to make a marriage succeed. I love Erica with every fiber of my being, and I know she feels the same, but marriage takes work. Since All Your Perfects revolves around a married couple, it was easy to see ourselves in every facet of these characters.
I have read some of Colleen’s books. Erica first had me read Maybe Someday because she thought I’d like the music aspect, which was spot on. We then read November 9 together as our first “buddy read.” The same for It Ends with Us. So I am comfortable with Colleen’s writing style. I am a fan of hers and enjoy the characters she creates. She has a way of giving characters just enough nuance that they seem completely real, like they are people I know in real life. And the angst! Reading her books often takes me back to how I felt when Erica and I were dating. All the nerves, the tingles, the feels. But what the hell am I saying?! If you are reading this, you already know that.
So let’s talk about Graham & Quinn. Most of the book is told from Quinn’s perspective, which was really interesting for me. Reading about what a woman may think her man is thinking during some pretty heavy situations was eye-opening. Quinn convinces herself that Graham feels a certain way with no proof at all. Whether her thoughts are accurate…will be up to you to read the book and find out. Colleen did a really excellent job painting this picture of Graham through Quinn’s eyes. While I understand the female brain can handle more than the male brain will ever be able to, if this book is a good representation of the female mind at work, then dang. I mean DANG!
As for the overall story, I did really enjoy it. But it was heavy. As Erica mentioned in her review, it was not something that we read in one sitting because we just had to devour it as fast as possible. Instead, it was something that had to be read in phases. The heaviness of the story even made reading the light parts more challenging. When you know what the heavy parts are, it is hard to truly enjoy the light, fun, and angsty bits. However, let me be clear about this: I wouldn’t change anything about it. The story is powerful and emotional, but in all the best ways. It has been over a week since we finished it and not a day has passed that I haven’t thought about these characters. The story stays with you. The story haunts you. If you’re married or dating, the story will challenge you to look at assumptions you make with your significant other. If you’re single, the story will make you examine yourself. No matter your place in life, I think there are lessons to be learned for everyone.
As for reading with your boyfriend or husband, as long as you know that this is an emotional book, it might be something positive to do together. Just warn them that there are Rudy-esque tears that may fall!
In looking back at Colleen’s work, it is obvious she has been making her way into deeper and more complex storylines. She deftly made us feel for the challenges Fallon and Ben worked through in November 9, then took us deeper into the complications of life and love with Lily in It Ends with Us. She takes us not just to the next level but to the next universe with the story of Quinn and Graham.
Now, I am off to go scrub the tear stains off my man-card!
I think we can agree that Matt nailed his first review. Husband points earned: 2. These may be redeemed for one hand massage, a large serving of my “famous” French toast, or dinner with your mother. Go ahead and gloat, jerkface (aka I love you).
Matt had a lot of great comments, but my favorite of his was when he talked about how anyone—regardless of your love life or life experience—will get something out of this book. That’s really true. Yes, this story is about a married couple, but there are universal truths, situations, and behaviors that everyone will be able to relate to. And, naturally, because it’s Colleen, there’s lots of humor, too. With the heaviness comes a lightness.
Matt’s right. This story will stick with you. You just have to let it stick.
We hope you’ll stick with us too. Thanks for reading.
To purchase a copy of or read a synopsis for Colleen Hoover’s All Your Perfects, click here.