Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.
310 pages; Romance/New Adult; 2015
I’m a sucker for book descriptions like this. Just a few sentences on the inner flap of a hardback (or in this case, the back of a paperback) can determine its placing on your TBR list, can determine if it even makes it on that mile-long list. I absolutely love coming across one that drives me crazy enough to shove everything else off that list and begs for my undivided attention.
The first book description to ever grab my focus like that was [“My Sister’s Keeper”] by Jodi Picoult (and everything she wrote after). Then [“The Thirteenth Tale”] by Diane Setterfield. [“Magic Hour”] by Kristin Hannah. [“One Day”] by David Nicholls. [“I Couldn’t Love You More”] by Jillian Medoff. I knew I’d try anything by the authors who penned them. These books with plots I had never heard of were popping up everywhere and I was always on the hunt for more.
Then last year, I found [“Confess”] by Colleen Hoover. The book description was just okay but when I cracked it open and reached the part about the art gallery and where exactly the artist drew inspiration from, I knew I’d be adding Colleen Hoover to that list.
I didn’t even get a chance to put “November 9” on my TBR list …because I got it the same day I first heard of it and I read it in its entirety in less than 24 hours. I was a little apprehensive because how could I possibly get attached to characters I’d spend 6 days of their lives with? Well. Let me tell you.
The book opens with 18-year-old Fallon, former teen actress, and her father, beloved former actor, having lunch together, their last one before she makes a brave move solo from L.A. to NYC. It’s a meal filled with tension and snappy comebacks as Donovan O’Neil completely disregards the significance of the date – two years since the house fire that nearly claimed his daughter’s life and scarred the left side of her body. When her father makes a stinging remark about not having had a date in over two years, Fallon is shocked when a boy about her age slides into the booth beside her, wraps his arm around her and says, “Sorry I’m late, babe,” before turning to her father to say, “I’m Ben. Benton James Kessler. Your daughter’s boyfriend.”
After only a few short hours in each other’s company, there is a growing attraction between Fallon and Ben The Writer. With Fallon’s impending flight drawing nearer, Ben hurries to come up with a way to keep her close. They agree to a full year of no contact until the following November 9, where they will meet for one day and one day only. This will continue for five years until the year they turn 23 – the age Fallon believes is the year most people have their lives together. And the year one is ready to fall in love. Ben, not a fan of romance novels, will write their story as it unfolds. Fallon, a little afraid but also a little headstrong, will attempt to make a life for herself, one that isn’t hindered by the marks on her skin.
Fallon transforms and it isn’t long before she sees herself the way Ben does. Ben, however, has one foot in the doorway of the past and can’t fully step forward without revealing more of who he is to the girl he fell in love with that first day. But that has to wait until the five years are up. Only then can he afford to tell Fallon everything.
But a lot can happen in one year and a lot can change.
Multiply that thought by five.
So what are the odds that the one thing that won’t change are the feelings they felt that first day?
I did cringe at some cheesy lines and I did have an inkling of what some of the storyline would look in the later pages. It wasn’t perfect, not by any means. But I said that about [“The Time Traveler’s Wife”] and it’s my favourite read of all time. So mere imperfection is not going to impact this rating.
It made me feel. From the beginning. It started with the distant father whose touch probably felt like ice, to the girl whose scars seemed to define every fibre of her being. From the guy who seemed to see the girl when she was invisible, to the unique plot that kept me reading for hours on end. From the minor characters whose rare presence were still detrimental to the progression of the story, to the twists and turns I expected but were still tugged at my heart.
As someone who crossed paths with her forever at 15, I know how heartbreaking it must have been for Ben and Fallon to meet young, especially on the eve before she moves to on to a new chapter of her life. I thought it incredibly mature of them to chase after separate dreams. I adored the loving encouragement and support they gave each other, even though one would be chasing dreams in L.A. and the other in NYC. I looked forward to that first page of a new November where I’d be able to pinpoint the changes in their person, the subtle differences in their demeanour, the new additions to their hopes and dreams, and hopefully, that underlying fondness for more than just a friendship. I looked forward to finding out if they were still a We and if they would still be Them.
I know that fans won’t be able to help but liken “November 9” to “Sleepless in Seattle” and “One Day” (even the characters touch upon it) but it is its own story. There’s so much more to it that I won’t go into for spoiler reasons.
So just know that this, “November 9”, is my favourite Colleen Hoover to date.
“You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.”
“When you find love, you take it. You grab it with both hands and you do everything in your power not to let it go. You can’t just walk away from it and expect it to linger until you’re ready for it.”
“All I care about is you. Being with you every day. Seeing you every day. I’m not finished falling in love with you yet.”
“If you tell me you want to spend every single day on the calendar this year falling in love with me, then I’m going to kiss you. And I promise it’ll be an eleven.”
“She “loved me” in quotations
She kissed me in bold
I TRIED TO KEEP HER in all caps
She left with an ellipsis…”
“I would never let anyone else borrow my heart if I knew there’s a chance in hell you might want it back.”
“It took four years for met to fall in love with him. It only took four pages for me to stop.”