Title: It Sounded Better in My Head
Author: Nina Kenwood
Pub. Date: April 7, 2020
Pub: Flatiron Books
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
From debut author Nina Kenwood comes a tender, funny, and compulsively readable novel about first love and its confusions, and all of the awkwardness of teen romance.
When her parents announce their impending divorce, Natalie can’t understand why no one is fighting, or at least mildly upset. Then Zach and Lucy, her two best friends, hook up, leaving her feeling slightly miffed and decidedly awkward. She’d always imagined she would end up with Zach one day―in the version of her life that played out like a TV show, with just the right amount of banter, pining, and meaningful looks. Now everything has changed, and nothing is quite making sense. Until an unexpected romance comes along and shakes things up even further.
This will be a spoiler free review. I listened to the audiobook via Audible and I did not like this book. I initially downloaded it, because it sounded cute and I was on a YA contemporary romance kick, but I really did not like this book. I found it exhausting, which is saying something, since it’s only 272 pages.
I’m going to keep this review brief, because I honestly don’t have anything nice to say. Even the mildly relatable moments were lost in the noise that is the MC’s inner thoughts. I couldn’t stand Natalie. She over analyzed everything, creating anxiety for herself and refuses to get over the struggles she had to deal with in high school.
Now, look, I get it. High School sucks for the majority, puberty is slamming into people like they’ve been hit by a bus. Some people get off easy, other’s not so much. I get not feeling comfortable in your own skin, and just wanting to blend into the crowd, do what’s needed to be done and get home to the relative safety of a bedroom.
We’ve all been there.
But I’m also a firm believer that your life is what you make of it. You can stay rooted in the past, terrified to move forward – and if that’s your choice, then that’s your choice.
But it is a choice.
Natalie’s personality boils down to – I had cystic acne in high school, and I refuse to move past it.
Maybe I’m being harsh, but she judges everything and everyone in her life, by the fact that she had a shit high school career with terrible skin. And I get that cystic acne is no joke. She thinks the only guy who could ever like her, is one of her best friends (and don’t even get me started on the fucking internal monologue about how she feels about him – that shit was terrible). She judges people based on how they look but hates the fact that she was judged on how she looked.
She sees people with good skin as having no problems, having a perfect life, all while she’s hiding behind make-up and excuses to make herself feel better. And when she finds out that she’s judged them wrong, its almost like she doesn’t understand how “perfect” people aren’t, in fact, perfect. Because people with good skin, can’t possibly have any kind of real life problems. Give me a break.
Speaking of her friends – I didn’t care about them. Natalie is so in her head, making absolutely everything about her, that I couldn’t care about her friends. For all the time she spoke of how happy she was for them that they’d fallen in love, that she wanted their happiness, she had a fucking weird way of showing it.
Then there’s the love interest – and fuck off. Miss me with that shit. I’ll be the first to admit that I love the “hot older brother” trope, but you’re telling me that in, what, four years or whatever where he’s never said like one word to Natalie, that he suddenly has feelings?
I don’t buy it.
I just didn’t believe them as a couple. I honestly don’t understand what he saw in her. I just don’t. I don’t buy into it at all. From her perspective, I can understand the attraction, being younger and seeing him around all of the time. But his? Nope.
And then circling back to Natalie, her whole parents divorcing thing…I don’t even really know why it was included. She fixates on it, like she does everything else, but I don’t really think it serves any purpose plot wise.
Natalie was just an immensely unlikeable character for me. Listening to the narrator (who did a good job – I’ve got nothing against the narrator) read all of Natalies’s inner thoughts, inner monologues was utterly exhausting, and it gave me a headache. Her brain never stops – it’s running sprints at 100 miles an hour as she over analyzes and derails everything. She was just annoying.
I also had an issue with the world building. One, I had no idea it was set in Australia – not that I have a problem with that part. But the world building doesn’t happen outside of Natalie’s POV. Like, I couldn’t tell you what anything was supposed to look like. The beach house scene – idk, I just pictured my aunt’s beach house, because I have no idea. The rest of the world, idk. Natalie is so in her head, that everything else is just lost.
It Sounded Better in My Head is a compulsively readable love letter to teenage romance in all of its awkward glory, perfect for fans To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Emergency Contact.
Okay, so this ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated, but I guess I had a lot to say. I wanted to like this book. Based off the synopsis, I for sure thought I would. But I figured out pretty early on that I couldn’t stand Natalie and everything just spiraled downwards from there. I don’t even want to recommend this book, because I honestly don’t think it’s worth the time. But I will always encourage people to make their own decisions. There are people who have loved this book, but I’m siding with the 1 star reviews on Goodreads. If and when the author puts out another YA book (whatever genre) I might be willing to give it a try, but as for this book, I honestly wish I’d never read it.