Thank you to Viking Books/NetGalley for a copy of They Hate Each Other in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

There are plenty of words Jonah Collins could use to describe Dylan Ramírez. “Arrogant,” “spoiled” and “golden boy,” to name a few. Likewise, Dylan thinks he has Jonah accurately labeled as an attention-seeking asshat who never shuts his filthy mouth. Their friends are convinced Jonah’s and Dylan’s disdain for one another is just thinly veiled lust — a rumor that surges like wildfire when the two wake up in one bed after homecoming.

Mutually horrified, Dylan and Jonah agree to use the faux pas to their advantage by fake dating. If they can stay convincing long enough to end their “relationship” in a massive staged fight, they can prove their incompatibility to their friends once and for all. But the more time they spend together, the more their plan begins to fall apart — and the closer they come to seeing each other clearly for the first time. — From the publisher. 

Tropey-goodness

Look, I’ve never read or watched a setup for fake dating that felt plausible or realistic. It’s just something you roll with and get past when enjoying romantic fiction. Though this premise was flimsier than most, I also bought into it more easily because one) teenagers and two) profoundly traumatized teenagers. 

But if you have no suspension of disbelief, Amanda Woody’s They Hate Each Other may not be the book for you. 

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Wha-bam!

That book summary is a bait and switch. They Hate Each Other is deeply disturbing in many ways, and you should definitely read the content/trigger warnings before picking it up. This is not a light, swoony romance, which is to the novel’s benefit. The book would have been paint-by-numbers and shallow had Jonah’s and Dylan’s lives been less complicated. Instead, as much as we can see them making poor decisions, we understand that each is backed by years of pain (and abuse). Nor does being in a relationship magically heal each other; it just helps.

Amanda Woody writes the tough stuff with brutal honesty and clarity. There’s no mincing of words, but neither is there gratuitous wallowing. It’s an outstanding — and appropriate — balance. 

But, that said, I swear if I have to read one more book where penetration is equated to virginity, my head will 🤯. It’s bad enough that virginity is even still a thing. I get that both these concepts are so ingrained culturally, but for a book where characters are enlightened enough to realize that even kissing requires enthusiastic consent, I couldn’t even.  

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Should you read it?

Is there a higher compliment than “I stayed up all night to the detriment of my health to finish this book?” You should absolutely read this book. It’s so good. However, please read the content warnings below (as well as Amanda Woody’s in the book’s intro). 

They Hate Each Other is out on May 09, 2023. Pick up a copy at your local indie bookstore or library. 📚💔❤️‍🩹 

Content warnings

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