Saturday, 10 June 2017

Dating-ish (Knitting in the Cty #6) by Penny Reid


There are three things you need to know about Marie Harris:
1) She’s fed up with online dating,
2) She’s so fed up, she’s willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and
3) She knows how to knit.

After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of human kind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities:

Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services?
But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he’s not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different—and crazier—solution to her dilemma . . .
As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?

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Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: June 2017.

Over a week later and I'm still ruminating over Dating-ish, the basis of this story was instantly intriguing, there's something inherently thrilling about diving into a Penny Reid novel, it's filled with a sense of the unknown, never quite sure what you're going to find. For fans of the Knitting in the City series, we finally get to embark on Marie's story, for those new to this crafty bunch, it's a seamless introduction to an old group of friends.

“Whatever happened to taking the time to actually know a person?"

"People don’t do that anymore.” Sandra flicked her wrist toward Ashley’s image on the laptop. “It’s all swipe left for sex or right to murder.”
“Not quite, but, yeah. It’s pretty bad out there.”  

Tinder, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, HER, Grindr most of us have used some sort of dating app in our quest to meet THE ONE, after all we're busy 20, 30, 40 and beyond somethings, we work chaotic jobs, live in a fast paced world, and we won't say no to a little help when it comes to finding a good match. Before marriage I saw Saturday nights with equal amounts of joy and trepidation, I was happy being single but I saw my coupled off friends and wondered if I was missing out on something, I wanted to meet someone, I wanted the butterflies and the swoony eyes, the elation over receiving that text and trying to figure out how long I had to wait before replying, and don't even get me started on weird first dates, and the sheer horror of some of those blind dates, awkward introductions, stilted conversations, longingly staring at your phone praying it will ring, the entire process is not for the faint of heart, at least in my experience. The worst part of my tale of woe, isn't even the bad first dates, it's what comes after, it's the meeting someone and clicking, it's the hanging out and becoming something else entirely, it's the threat of the dreaded FRIEND ZONE, and for a girl who's lived a great deal of her life in that murky grey area, I've got to tell you, it's tough, because feelings get involved, and you realise the line between friendship and more is actually pretty blurry.

“I’m gonna give you some unsolicited advice, okay?” Dan peered at me, as though making sure I knew to take his words seriously. “But it’s good advice, even though I’m tired as hell, so it might not make much sense.”
“Sure. Go for it.” Even in my muddled state, I couldn’t help but smile at my friend.
“You like that guy, you tell him flat out. You just lay what you want and everything out there. Don’t waste time not saying things that need to be said. He’ll always be in your mind, wrecking the possibility of things with other people, because your heart can’t move on until it knows for sure a door is closed.”
I managed a reassuring smile. “Thanks for the ad—”
“But then, if the door opens, make sure it’s the right door, not a different door. Because then you’ll be in the room, but it’s not the right room. And then you’re stuck in the room, you’ve committed to the room, and you’d be an asshole for trying a new door in the same house when you’re already in a room. And then your f*cking heart won’t stop looking for a window.”  

When Marie goes out on a quasi blind date she's hopeful, surely it's her turn right, she's a good catch, she has a good job, great friends, her own place, sure she's not Rockafeller but she does okay for herself, what has potential soon crumbles, dissolving in the most awkward of first dates, so bad it's entirely laughable, and just when she thinks the whole thing is done and dusted, life has a way of throwing her a curveball, in the form of the socially awkward Matt. As Marie begins her quest to find out if services bought and rendered can make up for a real life intimate relationship, something bizarre happens, the man who was once the enemy, becomes someone who makes her life better.

“Maybe the answer is: Don’t be an asshole, think before you open your trap, take responsibility for your words. Meaning, apologize when you’re wrong and correct yourself moving forward—and don’t constantly look for reasons to be offended and police well-meaning people’s words. We want folks to talk to each other, right? Not just hang out with like-minded people all the time. Everyone is ignorant about something, and everyone is offended by something. If people can’t have a calm, respectful dialogue without being hurt by ignorance, or without offending with insensitivity, then what the hell are we supposed to do? Surround ourselves with robots who don’t challenge our ideas?”

At its heart, Dating-ish is essentially a frienemies/friends to lovers rom com, but like everything Reid writes, it's also so much more than that, with her ability to engage in a moral debate of sorts with the reader, I often find myself, asking more questions, of not just my own thoughts and beliefs but of the world around me. There were so many moments that I found myself stopping to process my emotional response Reid's words, from the outset I found myself drawn to Marie, from her self deprecating humour, to the care she easily bestowed on all lucky enough to be loved by her, but more than that I sympathised with her in the way only someone who has felt the sting of developing feeling for someone who won't or can't reciprocate them, I felt that physical, crushing pain for her in the quiet moments when she allowed herself to break, and because of that I could feel her joy when she smiled and laughed.

“Only you get to decide how you stand, what you stand for, and when you do it.”  

Penny Reid has easily become one of my go to authors, I find myself drawn to her words, like a moth to a flame, her often poignant dialogue and spirited thought provoking prose is what leaves me remarking to book friends "I feel smarter reading her books", there's a simple, unassuming beauty in Marie and Matt's story, one filled with undeniable heart, and a health amount of humour, that had me utterly invested from the very first page, even now I find myself struggling to make sense of everything I felt reading this book, the emotions often too big to adequately describe, and the sucker punch to the gut to real and raw, Dating-ish left an indelible mark on my heart, one I'll wear proudly.

About Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, Penny works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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