Jenny's Review: Wish You Were Here by Renee Carlino

Title: Wish You Were Here
Author: Renee Carlino
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Atria Books

Pub Date: August 15, 2017
Rating: 2 Stars

Our thoughts...
I wanted to like this story, I really did. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t like any of the characters and it is plagued by inconsistencies. I’ll admit, I teared up while reading it, I’m not soulless after all, but I wasn’t able to allow my emotions to shield me from the structure and content issues. Ignorance would have been bliss.

I’m not going to summarize the story for you because there’s a perfectly fine synopsis on Goodreads (link below). If you don’t want spoilers of any sort, stop reading now. 

How can someone as dense as Charlotte be so spontaneously insightful at times? Charlotte often comes across as naïve or selfish (admittedly) but then she’ll have these moments of profound wisdom that just doesn’t jive with how she is portrayed for most of the story. I’m also not comfortable with the fact that she seemingly has unprotected sex with two men within a short amount of time, mainly because she doesn’t inquire about their health status. Risky sex for the sake of…whatever you want to call it, doesn’t fly with me. I’m not factoring it into my rating but wanted to mention it because it bugs me. 

Seth…oh, Seth.  Seth is a douche bag, not a hero. He’s like a less-severe Jekyll and Hyde. He forces himself on Charlotte, makes her feel bad about wanting to wait to have sex, and we’re supposed to find him attractive? At one point he says, “I want you and I’m tired of waiting.” He gets quite pushy about it. He’s domineering and controlling one minute and then sweet and unconditionally understanding the next. No thank you, I’ll pass.

Both Seth and Alex tell us why Charlotte is so great, kind, funny, thoughtful, etc., but we don’t really see much of it. We see an immature girl stuck in her own head who can’t commit to anyone but her best friend. We don’t see these moments of “Awesome Charlotte” and that’s too bad; it feels like a big missed opportunity. I believe it is Seth who says, “I can tell you’re smart and savvy and know a lot of things about the world” but we never see anything to back that up, especially the worldly bit. There are two big pet peeves here: Telling instead of showing, and a female author writing what women “want” to hear in order to induce swooning instead of how men talk. Real-life men are perfectly capable of saying wonderful things, and I’m not selling them short, but this book reads like a woman talking and I don’t appreciate that. Both male leads are inauthentic because of these things. 

I could honestly keep going like this for far too long but that would be silly. Overall, I found Wish You Were Here to be inauthentic, inconsistent in regard to events discussed versus what we witness (Adam is weak and dying but can manage to move his wheelchair by himself with Charlotte on his lap?), and a whole lot of telling instead of showing. If you can allow your emotions to pull the shade over these things, by all means, pick up this book. There have been plenty of times I’ve been able to manage that and have been blissfully unaware. I just couldn’t block the bad out this time. This book will tug on heartstrings if you have them and probably make you tear up. Just don’t expect great structure or storytelling. Many people (a ton, really) have loved this story so the odds are, you will, too.

Wish You Were Here on Goodreads

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