Review: If You Don't Know Me By Now by A.L. Michael

Publication Date: July 2, 2015

The plan had been to go to London to become a writer, but Imogen has found herself working at a coffee shop, memorizing orders instead. Even with her attractive co-worker, Declan, there to make things more bearable, Imogen's dreams of being a writer still seem unlikely to come true.

But when her anonymous blog about the rudest customers in London goes viral, things are suddenly looking up. Her dead-end job might just be her ticket to making it as a writer, as long as she can keep her anonymity.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is my second time reading a book by A.L. Michael, and just like it was previously, this was a really quick read.

I liked the plot decently enough. There were certain things that I found to be somewhat unrealistic or hard to believe, like how quickly Imogen's blog blew up and how her co-workers were all of non-white descent and thus ridiculed because of their ethnicity. I understand that perhaps the point was to introduce more diversity to the character palette, but I did think that the extent to which it was done was a little unrealistic.

From a really early point, I already knew how this book would turn out. Maybe there was a lot of foreshadowing or maybe it's because I've read My So-Called (Love) Life by the same author, that I was just able to figure out how the book would end.

I'm usually a fan of settings that involve coffeeshops or cafés, but this time around, I wasn't really sure how I felt about it. I guess I'm not really that well informed about what it's like to be a barista. I've known that people have complicated drink orders, or that there are hundreds of rude customers that come through each day, but what struck me was that people in this book would demand their drinks be remade if it wasn't to their liking. Or how customers just appeared to be completely stupid at certain times. I mean, I've met plenty of people who are absolutely ridiculous when it comes to their Starbucks orders and make a big fuss about it, and I've also met people who don't seem to grasp the simplest of concepts, but the extent to which it was portrayed in this book seemed a little too extreme to be realistic. However, me not thinking that it's realistic could be a result of living in Asia and not really frequenting coffeeshops that often. And even when I do go, it's usually pretty early in the morning when most people aren't even up or out of their house yet.

Throughout the book, I felt like there were certain things that could have been expanded upon more, like Imogen's family. I was really interested in that, but it was never really explored that much. I also wanted to know more about Imogen's co-workers, or at least know how things turned out for them in the end, but the only one whom we really have any hints about is Emmanuel. There was so much that could have been explored and expanded on, and I felt like there was too much focus on things that were far too trivial.

Something that I wish the author did more of was to describe Imogen. It took me a quarter of the book to realize that she was Greek, and that was really the last thing I learned about her appearance. I know that she's Greek and has dark hair, and that's it. I know nothing about her height, eye color, smile, body shape, or anything that would help me to picture her. At the end of the book, I still couldn't picture her in my mind, so I ended up defaulting her to look like someone of white descent, just because I couldn't create someone in my mind based of the fact that all I knew was that they were Greek and had dark hair. And honestly, I struggled with picturing many other characters as well. There were enough descriptions to give you a vague idea of what they looked like, but not enough to make them stand out or impressionable.

Like I said earlier, I already knew how the book would end. Was it satisfactory? I can't say that it was, but I also can't say that it wasn't. It was predictable enough if you've read more than one contemporary or chick-lit book, and there weren't any twists that I can say surprised me. For the most part, I just felt really neutral about it all.

Is it unfair for me to dislike Imogen? I thought she was being a little ridiculous for a grown women. The way she behaved didn't make me think of her as a woman in her mid- to late twenties. I found her to be immature at times and found it annoying when she couldn't just admit that things with Declan weren't as she wanted. Instead, she harbored all of those feelings and waited until she could explode at him. And also, I think everyone knows by now that the kind of relationship she has with Declan almost never ends well, so I guess I was bored with their relationship.

I don't like Declan either. I'm just not a fan of him in general. Nothing about him really appeals to me, and I also thought that he was another character who just refused to come to terms with how he felt until it was at a convenient point in the book. I didn't find him charming, nor do I think that anything he said warranted for butterflies or nervousness.

4 stars. I have to admit that I'm somewhat disappointed with this book and kept comparing it to My So-Called (Love) Life, and that I definitely had more problems with this than with the former book. This story just didn't appeal to me as much and I can only say that the reason for the 4 star rating is because I did enjoy my reading experience. Would I recommend this? Maybe as a first book if you want to check out A.L. Michael's books, but personally, I think that My So-Called (Love) Life is much better and worth more time.

Thank you to NetGalley for hosting this on your site. Thank you also to CarinaUK for approving my request to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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