young adult | contemporary | LGBTQ+
Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.
But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.
Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.
I was so excited to read a sapphic romance. The Falling in Love Montage introduces us to Saoirse, a girl who doesn’t believe love is real anymore, and Ruby, who has a passion for romcoms. They strike a deal at the beginning of the book to recreate a “falling in love montage” to have fun during the summer, without being in an actual relationship. But we all know how this will pan out, don’t we?
Saoirse has had bad experiences with romantic relationships in her life. First, her parents get a divorce; then, her girlfriend breaks her heart. She has sworn off relationships and now dedicates herself to fulfill the curiosity of straight girls. She has rules, including not making out with girls that like other girls. But Ruby is right there, visiting from England, very much into Saoirse, and now Saoirse is struggling to follow her own rules.
In the beginning, I felt like the relationship between the two characters was lacking. Like it was missing that spark. This changed the more I got into the book, as they went to more dates and got to know each other better. Saoirse starts sharing parts of herself willingly, and unwillingly; even though one of her rules is not to know each other too much.
“See, the thing about the falling in love montage,” she said, her voice hoarse, “is that when it’s over, the characters have fallen in love.
There were moments where I was upset with Saoirse, with how much she wanted to hide her life situation from Ruby when she was so open to listening to her. However, I can see where she is coming from, trying to hide something that might change people’s perspective of her, and wanting to avoid having her heart broken again.
The book also does a great job of normalizing the characters’ sexualities. This is not to say that there are not characters that show apprehension or makes comments about it on a gag tone. However, the characters involved are very confident in their identities and are unafraid to show their preference in public.
I also loved Saoirse’s relationship with Ruby’s cousin Oliver. Their banter was so damn funny I really wanted to see more of their “frenemies” dynamic. Oliver is actually someone Saoirse knows since childhood and he might seem like a carefree guy, there is a certain depth to him.
But also, there’s this:
“Oh, so you just want to use me for my hose and then kick me to the curb?”
“Gross, no one is interested in your hose.”
Oliver pantomimed stomping off like a scolded child.
Now, I’m going to be honest and say I was a little more interested in Saoirse’s past relationship and her family situation. It’s a complicated bit and every time something new was revealed I was like going oooh and what?! That part of the book made me a little emotional, not gonna lie. It’s also very important to know what happened before Saoirse met Ruby to understand why she is the way she is. Her family life was by a terrible situation; one his father is trying to overcome yet doesn’t forget, while she is left feeling like the only one who cares.
There was a line that had me thinking in bed, I just kept repeating it in my mind. Thinking and thinking about it, about how true it is and how it applies to my life.
“If you truly love someone, if they were ever important to you, it doesn’t disapear. What it looks like might change, but that’s only the surface.”
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About the Author
Ciara Smyth is a social work student by day, writer by night and cat enthusiast 24/7.
Her first YA novel – about memory, rom-coms and girls who like girls – will be published in Summer 2020 by Andersen Press in the UK and HarperCollins in the US.
She previously worked as a teacher and mental health trainer. She enjoys jigging (verb: to complete a jigsaw) and claims to enjoy yoga in order to cultivate a zen persona that is shattered approximately ten minutes after you meet her.
She is from the south of Ireland but has lived in Belfast for so long that her parents make fun of her Northern accent.