There are a lot of fears and doubts that come with being loved. Am I good enough as I am? What about me makes that person love me? Are they in love with me or just the idea of me? These are some of the questions that are subtly asked and answered in Robinne Lee’s The Idea of You. This book revolves around the romantic relationship between a thirty-nine-and-a-half-year-old woman and a younger man. They bring to the table different life experiences, different perspectives, different responsibilities. But the question remains, do all these differences amount to anything significant? Do they really matter in the grand scheme of things?
The Idea of You touches on many themes, including ageism, sexism, feminism, maternalism—all effectively presented but not preached. There really is something for everyone. Which is why I had Matt read the book. This book is told completely from a woman’s (Soléne’s) point of view and left me wondering what the younger man (Hayes) was thinking and feeling. Naturally, I wanted to put myself in Soléne’s shoes and Matt in Hayes’s. I wanted him to tell me what Hayes might have been thinking at different points in the book. I wanted to more fully understand both sides of the story.
I’m not suggesting that Robinne leaves us hanging in this respect. She doesn’t. I got a sense of Hayes and his perspective through his and Soléne’s banter, which is my favorite part of the book. Man, are these two clever and witty—and honest. Playful sexual innuendo. Thoughtful, tender moments. Relatable conflicting opinions. Their dialogue is realistic and well written.
Another quality worth mentioning: Robinne’s descriptions. They are so vivid and allowed me to picture everything—from the type of designer sandals Soléne wears to the sticky mannerisms of a showbiz exec. It is so smartly written, so different from other books in this genre, that I had to tell Matt about it, which brings me to my next confession…
I shared several standout parts of this book—including the ending!—with Matt before he started reading it. (*Goes to crawl under a table*)
I did it not knowing we’d have a blog, not knowing he’d be writing for the blog, not knowing he’d be writing about this book for the blog. But, I know what you’re thinking: shame on me. And I’m right there with you. Still, it’s pretty telling that even though he knew bits and pieces of the whole story, he still read it, and he still wanted to write about it.
And, no, it’s not because I offered to do the dishes for a week. (At least I don’t think I did.)
He’ll share why he did soon, but I will say this: it might have something to do with the book’s draw. The Idea of You has something that is sometimes lacking in contemporary fiction: magnetism. I was immediately drawn into the story—from the first city to the last. And, like any good story, I was left wanting more. More Soléne. More Hayes. More sparring. More time. Just more.
Age differences in relationships: do they really matter?
I have a similar starting point as Erica, but this book left me asking different questions than her. For example, I am a year and a half older than Erica—should that matter? Probably not. What if it was 5 years, 10 years, or even 20 years? I don’t know. Is love truly blind?
What if you had a kid closer in age to your significant other than to you? Would you be worried they would be subjected to rounds and rounds of Your-Mom jokes? Okay, maybe that last one was just me—going to high school in the early nineties meant my Your-Mom game was on point!
Before going any deeper, I have to share something, I am not used to reading a lot of sexy-time scenes in my normal lineup of books. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy it, and I enjoyed it plenty of times throughout this book, but I also blush pretty easily…maybe more than pretty easily. I was raised Catholic, so I can feel guilty for just about anything. So anyone who saw me reading at an appropriate moment definitely saw me blush with guilt. For example, when Soléne says, “God, I just want to sit on this kid’s face and pull his hair” or “As if all my life I’d been walking around with a Hayes-shaped vagina and never knew”…I was grateful to hide behind my Kindle. Those moments were amazing, but…THE GUILT.
I blushed, even now, as I wrote those two quotes. I may need to go to confession.
So what did I think of this book? I liked it. A lot more than I expected to.
As Erica mentioned in her review, she shared parts of this story with me long before we ever thought to do this blog. Normally, I would think that kind of bias would be troubling for a book review. I always prefer to go in clean, with few preconceived ideas of how the story will unfold, so naturally I was reluctant to read this book. I did not expect to like it. Nothing about this book was supposed to be up my alley. But a few days have passed since I finished it and I can honestly say I really did like it. And I think the bias I had going into it makes an even stronger case for it being a good book.
By far, my favorite part was not a specific section or quote, but the chemistry between the characters. They are quick, sarcastic, and fun—not to mention, angsty. Erica said the book had magnetism and I totally agree.
I also love how the author crafted the story. There are some authors that spend paragraphs describing a place, or they overuse similes like they are made of gold. (Wait, did I just use one?) This particular author takes my favorite path of writing: she doesn’t spend time telling me about something; instead, she shows it in the plot and dialogue. Erica makes a good point about the descriptiveness. The author gives a lot of detail without being overly verbose. She’s selective about what she describes. She lets me, the reader, create my own idea of what is going on and what the surroundings look like. A quick sentence about being in a tropical location is all I need to let my imagination visualize it. A character’s actions not fully explained lets my mind fill in the gaps. Case in point, Oliver. What is that guy’s story?!
Hayes and Soléne seemed realistic to me. They had thoughts and expressed concerns that I found myself feeling right along with them. They were well thought out and exquisitely crafted. On the other hand, while I am not going to talk about the ending specifically, I did think it was a bit rushed. Overall, the book had great pacing throughout. It felt very natural. The only part I found challenging was that sudden ending. Is that a good thing that I wanted more? I will leave that up to you to read the book.
The quality of writing is what really sold me on this book, so let me end with this quote that still sticks with me: “Love, she said, was not always perfect, and not exactly how you expected it to be. But when it descended upon you, there was no controlling it.”
By the way, Mrs. Russikoff, I am still waiting for those dishes to be done.
Anyone got a sponge?
I agree with what Matt said and have one more thought of my own to share: pay no attention to the cover of the book. There’s a quote on it from Elizabeth Banks. She describes the book, saying it “captures what fame looks like, and how it affects us all…a fun, juicy love story!”
Elizabeth implies this is a “beach read,” which is incorrect in my opinion. This book is not lighthearted, but it will affect you. It will make you think and smile and laugh and—for me, at least—cry. Matt may have kept his man-card this go around, but my lady-card is definitely on an airplane somewhere over Europe with Hayes. I’ve lost it and am unsure if I’ll get it back. (Please read this book and then email me your retrieval ideas!)
There’s a reason why this book is on my Top Eleven Reads list. It’s just that good.
To purchase a copy of or read a synopsis for Robinne Lee’s The Idea of You, click here.