What: Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura
When: June 8th 2021
How: A copy of this novel was provided by SparkPoint Studio.
When Nozomi Nagai pictured the ideal summer romance, a fake one wasn’t what she had in mind.
That was before she met the perfect girl. Willow is gorgeous, glamorous, and…heartbroken? And when she enlists Nozomi to pose as her new girlfriend to make her ex jealous, Nozomi is a willing volunteer.
Because Nozomi has a master plan of her own: one to show Willow she’s better than a stand-in, and turn their fauxmance into something real. But as the lies pile up, it’s not long before Nozomi’s schemes take a turn toward disaster…and maybe a chance at love she didn’t plan for.
Love and Other Natural Disasters is a fake dating romantic comedy featuring a Japanese-American lesbian main character, Nozomi, who comes up with a “brilliant” plan to fake date a girl, all the while hoping that it will make said girl actually fall in love with her. As is the way with romantic comedies literally nothing goes to plan, and there are heartfelt and laugh out loud moments in spades.
As soon as Nozomi meets Willow, she’s a little bit obsessed with her. Willow is everything that Nozomi wants to be: pretty, popular, and confident. So while Nozomi does have a crush on Willow there’s also a huge part of that crush that’s centred in the “do I want to date them or be them” realm, and it takes a while for Nozomi to figure this out. I liked this inclusion because I think a lot of crushes are like this and yet I haven’t seen this side of them explored before!
Even though a lot of Love and Other Natural Disasters is centred around Nozomi’s plan to make Willow fall in love with her there are a few serious elements included in the story. One of which centres around Nozomi’s grandmother, who is homophobic. For a long time she didn’t speak to her son, Nozomi’s uncle, because he was gay but has now decided she’ll talk to him but not accept him. This confuses Nozomi as she thinks that her uncle is settling for less than he deserves, and it also makes her wonder about coming out to her grandma. To make things more complicated, Nozomi’s grandma has dementia which is accelerating quickly. This makes Nozomi wonder if it would be worth coming out to her if she is only going to forget anyway.
This part of the book is something I feel is incredibly important. For a while Nozomi feels like she isn’t being true to herself by not coming out to her grandma, that she is forcing herself back in the closet. But she also weighs up the options of coming out and losing her current relationship with grandma, or spending what little time they have left being the way they have always been. I’ve never seen this in a book before and yet it would be something that happens often – maybe not the dementia aspect but the internal conflict about coming out vs preservation of relationships. This decision isn’t easy, and Love and Other Natural Disasters in no way presents it that way. It is something no person should ever have to go through but unfortunately do. I’m glad that teens facing this same decision will see both sides reflected and validated in Love and Other Natural Disasters.
On another note, I wish there had been more page time of Nozomi in her final relationship! I wanted more of that cuteness, and it would have made my heart happy to see the two of them being happy. But even so, I really liked the endgame relationship in Love and Other Natural Disasters, and feel like everything worked out the way it was supposed to for all the girls involved.
All in all, Love and Other Natural Disasters is the perfect romantic comedy to read over the summer! It has all the ingredients of your fave rom-com movies, but so much better because it features a cast of queer girls of colour!!
© 2021, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning romantic cheating, emotional manipulation, divorced parents, homophobic grandparent, grandparent with dementia, reference to death of mother (side character)
romantic cheating, emotional manipulation, divorced parents, homophobic grandparent, grandparent with dementia, reference to death of mother (side character)