He+She has been a total whirlwind of a book. It doesn’t start by easing you into the story… it drops you smack dab into the middle of everything. From there it takes readers on one hell of a ride through the ups and downs of two people’s messed up lives to weave an intricately beautiful story of loss and being lost, of finding and finally being found.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 fortune cookie stars
HE is trying to piece together his broken life.
SHE is running away from her wedding day.
TOGETHER, their world is a beautiful lie.
APART, their world is a perfect mess.
He + She is a free-spirited romance about soul-awakening second chances, heartbreak, and hopeful beginnings.
Back to what I was saying about this book dropping readers smack dab in teh middle of teh action... Case in point: guy gets pummeled in the very first chapter. Even without the backstory, emotions are already running high! Readers immediately get a feel for what may have happened to warrant an ass-whooping. So, there’s guy who made an epic mistake, and he’s off trying to make amends. Keyword: TRYING. Second chapter: more drama. I can only name very few things that say DRAMA more than a runaway bride in an airport. So, to make things more interesting, they meet. Their meeting sets them off on a crazy adventure that neither of them would’ve ever expected. But it was an adventure they never thought they needed.
Guy and Girl are both running away from their lives. Him from a mistake (or an event, no one really knows for sure at the beginning) that made him need to make amends to someone he has hurt. Her from a love story gone wrong, if the running mascara and the ruined wedding gown are anything to go by. It was seemingly unlikely that these two would meet. But they did. And upon meeting, the girl asked the guy to not share anything personal about themselves… even their names. That way, when whatever it is that they’ve started ends, they won’t have an excuse to hang on to each other. So, now they introduce themselves as Hew and Shea.
There was no question that Shea is the one who fuels the “friendship” they started. Despite of whatever messed up circumstances that led her to run to San Francisco where she meets Hew, Shea still comes off as this quirky, carefree young woman. If there were ever a song made for her? It would have been YOUNG, WILD, AND FREE or maybe WE ARE YOUNG. You get the pattern? Well, that’s how she seemed! Shea was a refreshing character to say the least. Reading all these NA novels, we often come across female protagonists who are demure, shy and all-kinds of uptight. Shea is anything but. Her antics were really funny and entertaining! I mean, riding a bike in her underwear to follow a bunch of nudists around SanFran just for the heck of it? That’s all kinds of crazy and it made Shea a very likeable character. Her easy going nature is what drew Hew to her in the first place.
I understood the draw that Hew felt when he was with Shea. He always struck me as a sensitive guy, with the way he talked and how considerate and gentlemanly he was when he first met Shea. There was no question who was more aggressive was between the two of them. But Hew oozed this quiet strength that seemed to hold Shea up whenever she least expected, or needed, it. Because as their SanFran adventure continued, we get to see the cracks in Shea’s armor and the person she is underneath is far from the smiling young woman Hew initially met.
Shea is plagued by demons, demons that come in different shapes and colors. There were blue demons, white demons, and pink demons. But she needed her demons to get her through each day without breaking down. Spending more and more time with Hew made her realize that she doesn't want to lean on her demons anymore. She is desperate to be done with them and just be herself with Hew. She likes who she is with him and she cannot deny the feelings that Hew is starting to stir in her messed up heart.
Hew and Shea take on one hell of a rollercoaster ride. The highs of their passion and their budding love for one another were soaring. But the lows brought on by the pasts they both cannot escape, no matter how far or fast they run, bring them down to depths that neither of them are sure they can fully escape.
Reading He + She felt a lot like starting a dream (yes, remember that scene from Inception where Leonardo DiCaprio was explaining to Ellen Page how dreams start?). It was disconcerting at first to be kept in the dark about what’s happening but I think it worked really well for the book. He+She used the vagueness of the story to its maximum advantage. There was an air of absolute mystery that kept me on edge throughout the book. It was subtle but you can feel it threaded through every word in the story. As the story unraveled and Hew and Shea’s secrets are revealed, readers finally get to understand how deep the story goes. It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that things come to a head. That makes for one hell of a build-up to get to that point. Okay, there were some slow and dragging parts in the beginning but I think that explosive end was well worth the wait.
And when I say explosive, I mean the kaboom! kind. That plot twist near the end of the book hit me from so far out of left field I was left reeling. But when it finally sunk in, everything else started to make sense. Nope, I’m not telling! You have to read it for yourself to see what I mean. I’m warning you, do not, and I mean NOT, skip to the end.
This is Michelle Warren’s first romance book and I definitely hope not the last. Go and get yourself a copy of He+She. It’s different, it’s fun, it’s intense… definitely worth adding to your reading lists!