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Just Like You
Cover of Just Like You
Just Like You
A Novel
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“[A] charming, funny, touching, and relevant comedy.” —The Boston Globe “A provocative yet sweet romantic comedy.” —People, Best of Fall 2020 This warm, wise,...
“[A] charming, funny, touching, and relevant comedy.” —The Boston Globe “A provocative yet sweet romantic comedy.” —People, Best of Fall 2020 This warm, wise,...
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  • “[A] charming, funny, touching, and relevant comedy.” —The Boston Globe

    “A provocative yet sweet romantic comedy.” —People, Best of Fall 2020

    This warm, wise, highly entertaining twenty-first century love story is about what happens when the person who makes you happiest is someone you never expected
    Lucy used to handle her adult romantic life according to the script she'd been handed. She met a guy just like herself: same age, same background, same hopes and dreams; they got married and started a family. Too bad he made her miserable. Now, two decades later, she's a nearly-divorced, forty-one-year-old schoolteacher with two school-aged sons, and there is no script anymore. So when she meets Joseph, she isn't exactly looking for love—she's more in the market for a babysitter. Joseph is twenty-two, living at home with his mother, and working several jobs, including the butcher counter where he and Lucy meet. It's not a match anyone one could have predicted. He's of a different class, a different culture, and a different generation. But sometimes it turns out that the person who can make you happiest is the one you least expect, though it can take some maneuvering to see it through.
    Just Like You is a brilliantly observed, tender, but also brutally funny new novel that gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person—someone you didn't see coming.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Chapter 1

    How could one say with any certainty what one hated most in the world? It surely depended on how proximate the hated thing was at any given moment, whether you were doing it or listening to it or eating it at the time. She hated teaching Agatha Christie for A-level, she hated any Conservative Education secretary, she hated listening to her youngest son's trumpet practice, she hated any kind of liver, the sight of blood, reality TV shows, grime music, and the usual abstractions – global poverty, war, the imminent death of the planet, and so on. But they weren't happening to her, apart from the imminent death of the planet, and even that was only imminent. She could afford not to think about them quite a lot of the time. Right now, at 11.15 on a cold Saturday morning, the thing she hated most in the world was queuing outside the butcher's while listening to Emma Baker going on about sex.

    She was trying to move out of Emma's orbit, but the movement was imperceptible, and would, she guessed gloomily, take another four or five years yet. They had met when their children were small, and went to the same play group; dinners were offered and reciprocated and offered again. The children were more or less the same, then. They hadn't developed personalities, really, and their parents hadn't yet decided what kind of people they were going to be. Emma and her husband had chosen private primary education for theirs, and Lucy's boys eventually found them insufferable. Social interaction eventually stopped, but you couldn't do much about living near someone, shopping in the same stores.

    It was a particular stage of the queuing that she hated: the point at which one was right outside the door, kept shut in winter, and one had to decide whether there was room inside the shop. Go in too early and you had to squash up against somebody while running the risk of anxious queue-jump faces; too late and somebody behind would toot her, metaphorically, for her timidity. There would be a gentle suggestion, a "Do you want to..." or a "There's room in there now, I think." That was what it was like: pulling out at an intersection that required aggression. She didn't mind being tooted when she was driving, though. She was separated from other drivers by glass and metal, and they were gone in a flash, never to be seen again. These people were her neighbours. She had to live with their nudges and disapproval every Saturday. She could have gone to a supermarket, of course, but then she would be Letting Local Shops Down. And in any case the butcher was just too good, so she was willing to spend the extra. Her sons ate neither fish nor vegetable, and she had reluctantly decided that she probably did care about them ingesting antibiotics, hormones and other things in cheaper meat that might one day turn them into female Eastern European weight-lifters. (If they did eventually choose to become female Eastern European weight-lifters, however, she would fully endorse and embrace their decision. She just didn't want to impose that destiny upon them.) Paul helped with the boys' beef habit. He wasn't mean about money. He felt guilty about everything. He kept enough to live on, if that, but he gave her the rest.

    The tricky in-or-out part was probably another ten minutes away, though. The expense and the quality were attractive to the residents of this particular London borough, so the queues were long, and the customers took their time once they had forced their way inside. Emma Baker's obsession with sex was happening right here, right now, and it was intolerable.

    "You know what? I envy you," she said.

    Lucy didn't reply. Terseness was...

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2020
    Love in the time of Brexit: A 42-year-old white schoolteacher falls for the 22-year-old black kid behind the counter at the butcher shop. "It was a time when everyone was vowing never to forgive people. Politicians were never going to be forgiven for what they had done, friends and family were never going to be forgiven for the way they had voted, for what they had said, maybe even for what they thought. Most of the time, people were not being forgiven for being themselves....And could you only love someone who thought the same way as you, or were there other bridges to be built further up the river?" Hornby's latest focuses on an interracial, intergenerational relationship that begins a few months before the Brexit vote in 2016 and continues through the U.S.'s own bummer election, with a final chapter skipping ahead two years. Finally separated from the atrocious and not-quite-yet-recovered alcoholic she married, Lucy is ready to brave the dating pool and asks the young man who wraps up her roasts whether he knows anyone who might babysit. Her sons, devoted soccer players, are 10 and 8. Joseph is already babysitting for another family as well as coaching soccer, working at the public rec center, and DJ-ing to make ends meet--"a portfolio," as an acquaintance encouragingly describes it--while still living at home with his mum. He takes the job, and when Lucy's first couple of setups fizzle, the two give in to their urges. As smoothly as they fit together when it's just the two of them (they think they're hiding it from the boys), there's friction galore once they leave the house. The race thing, the age thing, and then there's Brexit. Everyone Lucy knows is voting "stay" while Joseph's dad, who works construction, is voting "leave." The guy who owns the butcher shop wants to put up whichever poster will be best for business, and most of Joseph's friends can't be bothered to care. The fans Hornby has won with his comely backlist--High Fidelity (1995), About A Boy (1998), How To Be Good (2001), etc.--might not change their favorite but they won't be disappointed. Hornby is as charming as ever in this nimble, optimistic take on the social novel.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 22, 2020
    Hornby (State of the Union) lives up to his reputation as bard of the everyday in this thoughtful romance that crosses lines of race, age, and class. Lucy, a white, not-quite-divorced schoolteacher, first notices Joseph, a part-time butcher, soccer coach, and aspiring DJ who is black and 20 years her junior, while listening to her friend flirt with him across the counter at the butcher shop. Lucy hires Joseph to babysit her two precocious boys, who adore him, and soon Lucy and Joseph’s relationship becomes romantic. Each takes a turn trying to end the affair (“you and me are like something between brackets,” she tells him), but their connection persists as Lucy juggles parenting and teaching and Joseph determines to expand his DJ career. Hornby is good company on the page and offers insights on his characters with aplomb, demonstrating an investment in each of their voices and an interest in the forces that draw people to one another. This is great fun. Georgia Garrett, RCW Literary.

  • Booklist

    August 1, 2020
    Are they flirting? Fortyish high-school teacher Lucy and Joseph, the 22-year-old who, among his many jobs, occasionally babysits her two sons, can't believe it at first. Adding to their age gap, Lucy is white and knows exactly how she'll vote in the upcoming Brexit referendum (stay), while Joseph, who is Black, isn't at all sure, though his father is all in for leaving. Operating under the obvious assumption that their fling is just that, Lucy and Joseph have a lot of fun doing nothing much (having sex and watching The Sopranos, usually in that order). Lucy's sons still think of Joseph solely as their babysitter, and they are obsessed with him. In Hornby's first full novel since Funny Girl (2015), assumptions?many of them?turn out to be wrong as Joseph and Lucy are tested by more than their differences and the historic vote. "I suppose that's what a relationship is supposed to be, Lucy says. "Finding out what it's like to be the other person." Effervescent with chemistry and quick dialogue, this is an utterly diverting romp.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2020

    Lucy is a fortyish single white mother of preteen sons who teaches English in a racially mixed north London high school and whose ex-husband has ongoing dependency problems. In the weeks leading up to Brexit, two men enter her life. Michael Marwood is an age-appropriate midlist author whose background and interests closely align with Lucy's. Joseph is a young Black butcher shop employee whose many part-time jobs also include coaching soccer and mixing music at a trendy night spot. Not too surprisingly, Lucy has very little chemistry with Michael, but sparks fly with Joseph. What begins as a sizzling affair sustained by sex and The Sopranos evolves into a deeper relationship that soon falls under intense scrutiny by their families, Lucy's colleagues, and Joseph's hipster friends. All of the characters in this wonderful novel are endearing. Most of them, including Joseph's judgmental mother and Lucy's guileless, sports-crazy sons, are also smart and funny. A few minor characters are racist and provide some timely #BlackLivesMatter moments. VERDICT Filled with laugh-out-loud charm, Hornby's movie-ready follow-up to State of the Union is a hopeful balm for our unsettled postpandemic times. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/20.]--Barbara Love, formerly with Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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