Just Like You
Nick Hornby’s latest working class novel takes on an interracial, intergenerational romance between two people who seem to have nothing in common – and yet fall in love regardlessly.
Lucy and Joseph are like night and day. Joseph is a twenty-two-year-old black freelancer/agency worker. Lucy is in her forties and is a white English teacher. She’s divorced and is raising two teens as a single mom. He’s working class and dreams of being a DJ; she’s college educated and dreams of falling in love again; he’s pro-Brexit and she’s anti-Brexit. Pure fate brings them together, and though it seems they’ll never end up together, step by step, their pairing becomes more and more plausible. But can they really weave a romance starting from such difference places?
Just Like You isn’t Hornby’s best work. In fact, I’d call it mid-level in his oeuvre, nowhere near to the levels of About a Boy. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a pleasant and enjoyable romance, even if it is a bit predictable.
Lucy and Joseph are neatly matched, both oddballs in their own ways, both suffering from past losses and hurts, and both dealing – well and poorly – with the slings and arrows of life in a Brexit world. The chemistry is fun and relatable and delivered with a lot of punch and verve.
Music factors in heavily to the book. As always, you get your rock trivia with your Hornby, as well as your wit, which is your slice of lemon in a glass of water.
Many readers may not be willing to enter into the laissez-faire state into which Lucy and Joseph enter. In these turbulent times, it’s not shocking that Hornby views his characters with a humanist lens. For folks willing to try to accept that view of the world, Just Like You will be a delight.