While watching some book review YouTube videos searching for new books to read, I came across “The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren several times. It was getting good reviews, and sounded fun, so I decided to order it from Chapters/Indigo (along with a pair of cozy reading socks).
The basic premise is that due to a series of coincidences and unfortunate events, the lead character, Olive, ends up going on a trip that was supposed to have been her twin sister’s honeymoon along with a man she doesn’t get along with–Ethan, the best man and brother of her sister’s new husband. The two jet off to Maui together despite their animosity because they both want a free Hawaiian vacation, hijinks ensue, and, obviously, they fall for each other.
The whole book felt very much like a romantic comedy. There was bonding, there was fake dating, there was “there’s only one bed” struggles, there were comedic and non comedic misunderstandings, there was a fiery female lead, there was a hot and smart male lead, there was family, there were lessons! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had a lot of the classic cliches, but subverted and played with others in fun ways. There was more to the story and to the characters than just their love story, which I enjoyed because it fleshed out both them as individuals, their relationship, and the world they are living in. It was a fun read and I also got emotionally invested.
I have read a lot of romantic comedy-esque books, and I tend to really enjoy them. But often when I talk about loving them, I almost feel the need to get defensive. To say I know they’re often tropey, and they always have a happy ending, but I still love them and enjoy them.
But why the hell do I feel the need to do that?
Why have I internalized this idea that I should apologize for loving romantic comedies, in both film and book form? Why should I apologize for enjoying a happy ending? Why should I feel like I’m doing something wrong by not reading serious or sad or “intellectual” books all the time? What’s wrong with just reading whatever I want to read because I want to read it and I ENJOY it? What makes a romantic comedy story less worthy? What makes a happy ending less worthy?
It doesn’t escape my notice that this kind of story is often written by women and for women and starring women. And of course, both women and men get shamed for reading them. Part of it, of course, is misogyny, and a derision for fiction that is considered “feminine.” Part of it is snobbery, the idea that this kind of story is lesser, is “low art,” is not “intellectually enriching” and therefore not worthy of consumption. It sounds like such an old fashioned idea, I know, but I have seen and heard these opinions being said and perpetuated even very recently.
Honestly? FUCK THAT.
This isn’t me saying you have to love a book like “The Unhoneymooners.” We all love different books. This is me saying to anyone reading this, but also to myself, that there’s nothing shameful in loving that happy ending. There’s no need to defend reading that romantic comedy. A happy, light, fun read can be just as “enriching” as anything else if you are enjoying it and it is bringing happiness into your life. Isn’t that what’s important, in the end?