I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an ARC of Rachel Del’s upcoming release, How To Be Someone Else, which is a New Adult romance novel that chronicles the whirlwind of catastrophe and discovery that follows Penny Williams upon the announcement of her parents’ divorce.
Del is a contemporary romance writer living in Las Vegas. How To Be Someone Else was my first dive into her written talent, but her debut novella, Finding Lily, has only good reviews as far as I can see. This is no surprise to me considering the ease and eagerness with which I read How To Be Someone Else. For more on Rachel Del and to read her blog, visit her website and connect with her on Twitter.
Though I’ve never experienced most of the events that Penny does, I found myself easily empathizing with her. Growing up and learning to walk in your brand new adult shoes is hard and confusing. There is always that line between doing what you’re “supposed” to do and doing what you want that a new adult needs to learn to walk.
“Here’s the thing about girls our age,” she said. She had our attention.
“We don’t know what we want. We really don’t. We might be madly in love with you one day, and wake up the next only to find we can’t remember what even drew us to you in the first place. As hard as it is, you can’t take it personally. We’re testing the waters, you know? Seeing what fits and doesn’t…and not just when it comes to guys. We’re all just trying to figure out what the hell we want out of life. And sometimes, like in your case, guys can become an unfortunate casualty of it all.”
Penny’s struggles are relatable—the sudden separation of family, a perfect-on-paper-only boyfriend, coming to terms with flaws in others, especially those you believed to be incapable of malfunction, turbulence in friendships, messy, spontaneous mistakes, and misjudged remedies to all of life’s problems. We’ve all been there. We’re all learning and growing and just trying to figure adulthood out and Penny’s illustrates the chaos wonderfully.
“People always think that we’re running away from our problems, when really we’re just trying to step back and gain some perspective.”
“We’re all just trying to see what fits and what doesn’t,” I whispered, repeating Penny’s wise words.
One of the things I loved about this book was the controversial main character. Penny is by no means perfect. She makes mistakes, and in some instances can easily be perceived as selfish, dramatic, or irrational. And that’s the beauty of her character. She is real. She is not a photoshopped version of a model on the front cover of a magazine. She is problematic and human—which makes her like everyone else in real life—but she is loveable because, despite some of the ways she shows it, she wants to be better and life fuller. She is trying.
One particular quote struck me:
“And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that most adults don’t get it. They’ve long ago forgotten what it feels like to be so young and confused that they have no patience for it.”
This is an important reminder, and Penny, I feel, experienced this on both sides in this story.
Overall, I devoured this book. It was easy to read and, more importantly, enjoyable to read. I would recommend How To Be Someone Else to any young adult or new adult looking for a romantic, triumphant read.