Book Review: Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Quick Summary:

Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren tells the story of Josh Im and Hazel Bradford, who met in college where Hazel barfed on his shoes after jokingly (or maybe not jokingly?) propositioning him for sex at a party. She was a freshman and he was an upperclassman. She kept embarrassing herself in front of him on several occasions, to the point where she deemed herself undateable to him though she sustained a major crush on him all this time. To her, Josh was “Perfect” as a person and partner and with her strong personality, she felt that she wasn’t a romantic match for him and kept herself on the sidelines.
Seven years later, they meet again at Hazel’s friend Emily’s barbecue where it’s revealed that Josh is Emily’s brother. In that instant, Hazel makes it her mission to become Josh’s best friend, once she hears he’s in a relationship, as a way to get close to him and genuinely become his friend.

Plot Overview:

Josh is in a long distance relationship with a woman named Tabitha, who keeps flaking  on visiting him. She’s in LA while they’re in Oregon; Josh and Tabitha typically alternate visits, where Tabitha was supposed to visit him but she kept cancelling last minute due to her job. Emily thinks Tabitha is cheating on Josh and his suspicions grow when she sends and uncharacteristic dirty text to him and claims it was meant for him. Turns out Emily and Josh’s suspicions are correct when Josh decides to visit her, based on Hazel’s suggestion, and cuts his trip short once he realized she had been cheating on him for the bulk of their relationship. This obviously breaks poor Josh, who then begins to wallow and withdraw himself from social activities.
While Josh was in LA, Hazel ends up moving in to his house temporarily as a pipe in her apartment burst, causing major flooding. With nowhere to go, Josh agrees to let her move in temporarily, under the assumption that he’d be in LA while she was there and there wouldn’t be any overlap. However, given how that trip turned out, they became temporary roommates. Seeing Josh so bummed out about his breakup gives Hazel an idea to help him get back out there – what if they went on a double blind date? Josh can find a date for Hazel and vice versa. They go on the date together so that Josh can feel more comfortable, and if the date is a dud, they can at least hang out. After a series of failed double dates, Josh realizes he likes Hazel as more than a friend and that the only reason he kept agreeing to go on those dates was to hang out with Hazel. They end up having a sort of date, just the two of them, where they both got drunk and ended up hooking up on Hazel’s hallway floor.

Common Themes + Opinions:

Hazel’s eccentric personality, something she’s proud of, is also the root of her insecurity. She deems herself undateable to Josh because of her energetic personality and feels like she’s “too much.” Her mom, who has a similar personality, detached from Hazel’s father after marriage where he expected her to tone herself down. Hazel witnessed this conversation where she internalized that she shouldn’t need to change to feel worthy of a man. The problem is that while she’s proud of who she is, it’s also holding her back from accepting that she’s enough for Josh. As she refuses to change her personality and inherently herself for a man, she thinks that she’s “too much” to find the right person, and thinks she’s too much for Josh.
On the contrary, once Josh realizes he’s in love with her and professes that love to her, she’s almost in disbelief because she still feels like she’s not deserving of his love because of who she is. She expects Josh to expect her to “tone it down” with time, despite the fact that Josh loves her as she is. I can understand where Hazel is coming from. On one hand, she shouldn’t have to change for anyone to feel deserving of anyone’s love. At the same time, I can understand why she wouldn’t deem herself worthy as she is for someone like Josh. It’s a catch 22 of sorts where she knows she’s enough as she is but at the same time doesn’t want to risk having someone she loves tell her that she needs to change. Her thinking that Josh would do that to her breaks her own heart before it even has a chance to really happen – even though its unrealistic given how he feels for her. 

Final Thoughts + Ratings:

Overall, I enjoyed Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. Hazel and Josh’s friendship was cute, and it evolving into a romantic one was inevitable. I did think her personality was over the top at the beginning but it seems to suit her. I also love how Josh accepted her for who she was without wanting her to change. She struggled with accepting that she was enough for Josh, but he showed her all along that she was perfect for him just the way she is. I feel like this story is a good reminder that you are enough as you are and don’t need to change for people. Love it or leave it, to be honest. However from Hazel’s perspective, it’s not so much if she could be too much for him but if he was right for her then her “too much” would have to suffice.
I’m giving Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating three stars for the cute, quick read and steamy sexy scenes. Have you read Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating? Let me know in the comments!
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