Title: Not Exactly What I Had in Mind
Author: Kate Brook
Flatmates, friends or family? It’s complicated…
Hazel and Alfie have just moved in together as flatmates. They’ve also just slept together, which was either a catastrophic mistake, or the best decision of their lives.
Before they can decide, Hazel’s sister Emily and her wife Daria arrive for a visit, setting in motion a chain of events that will turn everything upside down.
What follows will bind the four of them together, bringing joy and heartache, hope and anxiety, and reshaping their relationships in ways that none of them quite predicted.
Warm, witty, and devastatingly relatable, Not Exactly What I Had in Mind is a painfully true-to-life story about family, friends, and everything in between.
Not Exactly What I Had in Mind is a mixed book for me – I really enjoyed most of it and loved the characters in it: Alfie, Hazel and her sister and sister-in-law, Hazel’s friends, etc. The book starts with flatmates Alfie and Hazel having just slept together, and follows them afterwards as they deal with various personal issues, their feelings for each other (which are constantly thwarted by communication mishaps) and much more.
This book packs a lot in – perhaps a bit too much at times, but I really liked the themes it was addressing which, if I list here, will no doubt make the sound a lot heavier than it was. These include the importance of taking climate action; having kids as a gay couple; the impact of having kids on the environment; being single as you get closer to 30; trying to date in London; genetic risks of health issues; and much more that I don’t want to give away here.
I completely agreed with the messages the book was promoting and I really enjoyed reading about Hazel and Alfie’s lives as they get to know each other better, and as both of them date other people. There are some interesting dynamics between the two characters, and although I found it frustrating at times that the two of them just couldn’t seem to communicate properly, I got that this needed to be drawn out in the book to maintain the tension between them.
I also felt like there were a lot of issues or considerations that people do think about more as they reach the age of 30. The world is very different today than around 30 years ago when we were born, and I was very aware of this while reading it. It made me think!
I have seen a lot of reviews critiquing the epilogue – I also found it a bit jarring/ out of place, to be honest, but it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book – but I’ll say no more as I don’t want to give anything away.
Overall I think this is a solid read. It felt different to other books I’d read in this genre, and the likeable characters made up for the frustration at some parts.
My rating: 4/5
Many thanks to the publisher, Corvus, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.