Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day of her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist. Can Ben’s relationship with Fallon—and simultaneously his novel—be considered a love story if it ends in heartbreak?
As the title of this post implies, this was the first book by Colleen Hoover that I had ever read. I had obviously heard of her before, considering I spend a lot of time online, but I had never picked up one of her books before. If you’re a fan of hers, you might be scratching your head and thinking, WHY? WHY ON EARTH HAVE YOU WAITED SO LONG?! And that is a good question.
November 9 was not only my first Colleen Hoover book, but it was also my first New Adult book. Honestly, it was my first Contemporary Romance too. I’ve read some YA contemporaries, and I’ve read some Chick Lit, but I’ve never read a book before that you find in the Romance aisle of the bookstore. Again, if you’re a fan, you might be thinking, WHY? And again, good question.
My answer? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I was browsing the shelves at the bookstore hoping to find something to end my reading slump, I picked up November 9 on impulse.
And I was not disappointed.
Before I purchased the book, I sat down to flip through it and see what it was like. Once I started reading though, I just couldn’t stop! But I did make myself stop–long enough to go up to the register and buy it. Then I took it over to the in-store Starbucks, grabbed a latte, and settled in.
I was immediately intrigued by the title of the first section–“First November 9th.” This book takes place over five years, each section a different November 9th. After that, the first line drew me in even more.
I wonder what kind of sound it would make if I were to smash this glass against the side of his head.
Who is this Fallon person so angry with and what have they done? She’s so angry that she’s contemplating physical harm in a public place. Why? I had to know more.
It turns out that she’s out to eat with her father. She and her father have a…complicated relationship to say the least.
We soon learn that Fallon was injured when she was sixteen and has significant scarring on her face and body. Her life is now divided between before that night and after that night. That night her aspiring career ended. Her confidence was decimated. As far as she was concerned, life as she knew it was pretty much over.
Right away, I liked Fallon. She is snarky, sassy, and sarcastic. She’s more than a little bitter, and carries her emotional baggage around with her every day. She can’t get away from it–it’s literally written on her face.
But that day, that first November 9th, something changes. Benton James Kessler is thrust into her life. To stop Fallon’s father from continuing to berate her, Ben jumps in and pretends to be her boyfriend. He stands up for her and tells her father like it is–and from that point forward, there is no looking back.
That night, they spend time together as boyfriend and girlfriend, a running joke between them, and immediately hit it off. Ben’s confidence and outlook on life are infectious as he tries to show Fallon that’s she’s beautiful and worthwhile, no matter what has happened to her.
They really enjoy their time together, but reality sets in as the short hours pass. Fallon is moving across the country the next morning and she’s not going to let anything or anyone derail her–no matter how tempted she is.
You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.
They come to an agreement. Next year on November 9th, they will meet up again. And the next year, and the next. Until Fallon is, according to her mother’s advice, old enough and ready enough to really fall in love. They continue to meet up over the next few years, and their relationship evolves and changes as life throws things in their way.
Even though the romance, obviously, is a little insta-love-y, it was still awesome. Especially the way that Colleen plays with the trope and has the characters themselves be aware of this fact.
[Ben] laughs, resting an elbow on top of the car as he faces me. ‘So just to be safe, if kissing scenes are something you like most about books, what is your least favourite thing? I need to know so I don’t screw up our story.’
‘Cliff-hangers,’ I say immediately. ‘And insta-love.’
He makes a face. ‘Insta-love?’
I nod. ‘When two characters meet and supposedly have this great connection right off the bat.’
He raises an eyebrow. ‘Fallon, I think we might already be in trouble if that’s one of your least favourite things.’
I laughed so hard.
This book is just so good. Like I said, I was immediately drawn in by the writing and the characters. It was a struggle to tear myself away from this book to go to work. To do anything. The writing, the story, the characters, the romance, the everything about this book is just so engrossing. I flew through it and loved every minute.
I did have a couple of minor issues though. Colleen’s writing may have been enough to make me suspend my disbelief while reading, but there were some things that were just a little too much upon reflection. The way the romance plays out was kind of one of them, as well as the sheer amount of twists and turns near the end. However, I still did really enjoy it. And, I think I am in the minority about those couple of issues. Because, as of right now, 78% of those who have rated it on Goodreads gave it five stars!
As soon as I finished this book, I went to the store and grabbed Confess, Slammed, and Maybe Someday, two of which I’ve already read!
Colleen Hoover is a new favourite! And I’m eager to read some more New Adult!
If you haven’t read Colleen Hoover yet, I highly recommend giving her books a shot! If you enjoy books that completely pull you in; funny, sassy, and relatable characters; and swoon-worthy romance that’s not all fluff–you should definitely check this book out!
Are you a Colleen Hoover fan? Which book is your favourite? Or are you a Colleen Hoover virgin like I was? If so, do you think you’ll give her books a shot? Let me know in the comments!
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.