Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Review: Check Me Out by Becca Wilhite

Heidi Reads... Check Me Out by Becca Wilhite

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it



Greta loves her job as assistant librarian. She loves her best friend, Will, the high school civics teacher and debate coach. She even loves her mother despite her obvious disappointment that Greta is still single.

Then she meets Mac in the poetry section of the library, and she is smitten. Mac is heart-stoppingly gorgeous and showers her with affection, poetic text messages, and free hot chocolate at the local café where he works. The only problem is that he seems to be a different person in his texts than in his face-to-face conversation.

When the Franklin Library is threatened with closure, Greta leaps into action. She arranges for a "battle of the bands" book jam, hosts a book signing by a famous author, and finally, stages a protest that raises more than a few eyebrows.

Through it all, she slowly realizes that it is Will, not Mac, who she turns to for support and encouragement. Mac has the looks; Will has the heart. How can she choose between them?

Check Me Out is a contemporary romance--with just a hint of Cyrano de Bergerac--that reminds us that it is what's on the inside that matters most.

My Review

I'm glad I kept reading to the end, because the beginning was a bit rough. I loved the aged library setting and Greta's passion for her job as a librarian. Being in her head however, was a bit of a trip. There was a lot of random information passing through her narrative that showed her personality and life and seemed like they were supposed to be sassy/snarky/quirky, but I have to admit it was rather annoying and I began skimming. Her thoughts about Mac and his hotness were so shallow... and she completely embraced that shallowness in her own thoughts on more than one occasion. Flawed and totally frustrating.

Greta has an amazing friend in Will, but because he's fat, he's stuck in the friends-only zone. She laments about how others don't give him a fair shot or the attention he deserves because of his appearance, and is self-righteously defensive of him. Hypocrite, much? Other thoughts of hers come across as judgemental, but right when I get fed up, other redeeming qualities come forth- her work in bringing local history to light by organizing and digitizing forgotten scraps, letters, and photos. Her focus on fundraising to save the library from budget cuts. Her activism in standing up for the library on social media and in other... attention-grabbing ways. Her SLOW realization that Will is supportive in all the right ways, and Mac is coming up short.

By the last third of the book I was invested in the outcome- it's obvious that Will is the words behind Mac, but the way Greta finds out was a little belated, and then it's Will who is the villain. But honestly, as much as Will is a good friend to her- is she a good friend to him? I wish the author would have made Greta more likeable by showing the ways she supports Will and is there for him in his life, besides letting him be her friend. Maybe because it's written in first person, it comes across as "the Greta show" but I don't think that's just it. The way it's written, I think she comes across as self-centered and selfish, but would never see herself that way. Even in the end, when she forgives Will and decides to "try" a romantic relationship, it's about the words he tells her, not what she feels for him.

Some other secondary characters were interesting and I think the book would have benefited from exploring them a bit more, or at least making them a bit more three-dimensional- Greta's mother, Marigold- the young hippie, Mr. Greenwood- the neighborhood hoarder, and the other librarians- Julie, Bonita, and Kevin.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

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