All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Name Curse by Brooke Burroughs

on October 8, 2021

The Name Curse
Brooke Burroughs
Montlake
2021, 334p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: In this flirty wilderness adventure by the author of The Marriage Code, two hikers who drive each other crazy discover they might have a lot to learn from one another about navigating life, love, and living up to family expectations.

Ever since her father died, Bernie’s life has been stagnant. When concerned friends and family suggest she join a hike through Alaska to gain new perspective, Bernie reluctantly agrees to go, even though she’s never been the adventurous type, unlike her namesake, Great-Aunt Bernice.

Matthew is a struggling screenwriter who needs a week off the grid to gain some inspiration for a new project and to process the reappearance of his absent father.

When the two meet at the trailhead, it’s annoyance at first sight. He’s dismayed to discover that he’ll have to share a tent with Bernie, who doesn’t know the first thing about camping, while she finds he’s a little too into “roughing it” to be a reasonable human being. But as they’re forced to hike through the wilderness together, their relationship becomes a surprising source of empathy and inspiration…and maybe other feelings too. Can the two adversaries find the path to breaking the curse of family expectations—and each other?

I think this one might just be a case of, “it’s not the book, it’s me”. It has a lot of very positive reviews on Goodreads but for me, I just found it a big struggle to get into the story and to connect with any of the characters. They had so little chemistry and the conflict was very lacklustre.

I was drawn to this because I adore books set in Alaska, I love anything about Alaska. I love watching documentaries about it, reading books there, watching people that live there going about their lives. It’s so beautiful and so different to what I am used to. This was also a bit of an enemies to lovers trope, which is also one of my favourite things so I thought this would 100% be a hit for me. Unfortunately, it just really wasn’t.

Loved the idea – although as much as I love Alaska, the idea of a 5-day hike is kind of my worst nightmare. But I love the idea of reading about other people doing such a hike, especially when they’re as unprepared for such a thing as Bernie is. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a girl who likes my creature comforts (a working bathroom with running water please) so this sort of adventure is not for me but it definitely makes for an interesting setting within a story.

Bernie is stuck in a bit of a rut – still living in her childhood home, she is forced into taking some annual leave by her boss after allowing too much to accumulate. Her mother, thinking Bernie needs to have a bit of an adventure, live up to her namesake of her crazy Great Aunt Berniece, buys her a Groupon of a 5-day hike up Mount Dinali in Alaska. A mix up leads the organisers to believe that Bernie is a man, and they place her in a tent with Matthew, a screenwriter from LA who is escaping the city in search of fresh inspiration for his next project. Bernie and Matthew do not hit it off and it’s made all the more awkward by the fact that they will continue to have to share a tent.

I usually love a bit of forced proximity and “There was only one bed!” (or in this case, tent) but these two just had no actual chemistry, for me. They bickered a bit early on, but not in a hot, sexy filled-with-tension sort of way. More like in just a two people nitpicking everything sort of way. Also Bernie is one of those people that does things or has things happen to her which are supposed to be funny but in that way that just makes you cringe internally when you read them with secondhand embarrassment.

I also found it really weird that Bernie was named after her aunt and everyone seemed to expect her to be like her adventurous aunt? Like it’s said that she was named after her because she was such a funny baby, doing all these funny, crazy things but….you literally name a baby usually within moments of it being born, or at worst a few weeks later. Bernie did seem to be a bit wild and adventurous when she was younger but her desire to be like her much-admired Dad has meant that she’s reined that side of her in and it seems that people keep almost being disappointed (mostly her mother) that she’s not like that anymore and she should be more spontaneous or out there or crazy or do wild things. It took up a rather large part of the story and considering Great Aunt Berniece is no longer with us and actually, barely rates a mention as an actual human not connected to Bernie’s existential struggle, I did find my patience running out with this as well as Bernie’s lack of communication with her mother and asserting herself as an adult. She can’t seem to decide anything about her life, whether it’s to sell the family home, take a holiday, be wild or not, etc.

I just also didn’t find myself at all invested in either Matthew or Bernie as a couple either, all of this seemed to happen over just a week and I just didn’t feel like the development of their relationship was something I cared deeply about. Matthew was sort of fine I guess, although I completely understand why Bernie got upset at the end of the book and the story with his dad didn’t really seem fleshed out as much as it could have been.

I’m so disappointed I didn’t love this. I have had a few fails lately, with books I thought I would adore. Maybe I don’t know myself as well as I think at the moment!

5/10

Book #167 of 2021


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