Title: We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly a True Story
Author: Josh Sundquist
Release Date: December 23
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on NetGalley (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Josh Sundquist only ever had one girlfriend.
For twenty-three hours.
In eighth grade.
Why was Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down the girls he had tried to date and asked them straight up: What went wrong?
The results of Josh’s semiscientific, wholly hilarious investigation are captured here. From a disastrous Putt-Putt date involving a backward prosthetic foot, to his introduction to CFD (Close Fast Dancing), to a misguided “grand gesture” at a Miss America pageant, this story is about looking for love–or at least a girlfriend–in all the wrong places. (Source: Goodreads)
Josh Sundquist has never had a girlfriend before, and he’s started to wonder what exactly he’s been doing wrong. Why won’t girls date him? So he starts a study, looking back at the girls he’s liked, and then meeting up with them to see what their take on the relationship was. An autobiographical journey of self-discovery, about finding love and learning to love yourself.
I enjoyed this book to a certain extent, but I also found it a little uncomfortable to read and it left me feeling a little weird. In some ways trying to find out why your past relationships have failed is a noble pursuit, but I think it also made things a little weird because each girl was treated as a subject of study, not a human being. Then it also got a little…blame-y and whiny and weird. There were some funny stories to break things up, but for the most part I was just confused as to why I was even reading this book about a man whining about girls not liking him, while he didn’t actually do anything to initiate relationships or ask girls if they liked him. The ending takes something of a good turn, but then just turns back in on itself and leaves off a little disappointing.
Essentially this book is meant to play out like a scientific study on the failings of all of Sundquist’s past relationships. He sets it up with background, his hypothesis, and then the investigation he does by speaking to each of the women about how they saw things. These studies came off a little creepy to me. One, because he treated the women as subjects of study. This kind of creeped me out. Then, it often led to him getting a little blame-y. He’ll get angry because the girls don’t like his disability, which never turned out to be the case, or because they’re too cool for him and he’s a loser, but it was always the girl’s fault. It takes him a long time to get around to noticing how creepy he was during all of this, because he is creepy (in that he essentially stalks a few of these women). When he does get around to it, it’s during a discussion of his own stalker. And while he does say he had similar behavior, he brushes it off, because he liked them. That’s all. The fact that he was so hung up on girls he dated in middle school was a little weird, and definitely was reminiscent of Stella (his stalker). It was all over just weird to me. There are also all of these graphs dispersed throughout the book to…I don’t know…make examples? They didn’t work very well as they were confusing and poorly made.
On top of this creepiness he sometimes has this attitude like the girls in the book owe him something. It’s never explicit but this feeling just comes across. It’s basically that he views himself as this “Nice Guy” who these girls should like but don’t. This includes frequent references to the “Friend Zone” which is such a gross “Nice Guy” concept. This stuff really bothered me. He also talks a lot about his tactics for picking up girls, largely they are summed up with words like “there’s no yes or no, she’s forced to answer or agree to do stuff” which is really creepy. It definitely reads that way too.
Later on in the book he really starts to reflect on his own bad attitude. He talks, very frequently, about how everyone else has a problem with his disability, but it’s pretty obvious they don’t. He’s a very insecure person, which comes across really clearly throughout the book. And by the end of the book he does come to realize that he is the one who has the problem with his disability. Unfortunately this portion is very short and just gets passed over. I think ending on the note that he has come to terms with his disability and is able to live as he is without insecurity would have been a good ending. Unfortunately it keeps going. Josh gets a girlfriend, and she’s perfect for him. It’s not that I was rooting for him to lose, I just felt like this ending fell flat. I think the whole journey of finding love seemed pointless in the face of his own insecurity. That’s a much more important journey.
In terms of writing, I found it easy to read and often quite funny. Unfortunately though the attitude that comes across is just uncomfortable for most of the book. This paired with the content just didn’t sit well with me.
I’ve bounced around thinking about what to rate this book. I was going to give it a slightly higher rating but the more I thought about the stuff that made me uncomfortable in this book the more I realized I couldn’t give this book a good rating. I can’t recommend this book, and I’m sorry to say that because it was such an easy read and it could have been good.
Have you read We Should Hang Out Sometime? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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