Size Doesn’t Matter (136): A Totally Awkward Love Story; The Lonely Hearts Hotel

Size Doesn’t Matter (136): A Totally Awkward Love Story; The Lonely Hearts HotelA Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen, Lucy Ivison
Published by Delacorte BFYR on May 3, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

For fans of The DUFF, this hilarious and true-to-teen romance is Broad City meets Judy Blume.

The summer before college, Hannah swears she’s finally going to find The One. And for five perfect minutes, Hannah does find him. He’s cute and makes her laugh like crazy. She just wishes she’d caught his name, because Toilet Boy Cinderella really lacks sex appeal.

For Sam, the summer is off to a bad start for a million reasons. But for five minutes his luck changes: in a fancy restroom painted purple like it belongs in a Bond villain hideaway, Sam falls head over heels for some strange and hilarious girl. Of course, he doesn’t know her name. With his luck, he’ll never see her again, and he’ll remain a girlfriendless, moony-eyed virgin. Forever.

But another chance meeting brings them together, only to have a chance misunderstanding drive them apart . . . and then the cycle starts all over again. Madcap mishaps, raunchy hilarity, and deep romance follow these two wherever they go. For two people so clearly destined for each other, they sure have a hell of a lot of trouble even getting together.

Despite this monstrously awful cover, I gave A Totally Awkward Love Story a chance, mostly because it showed up unsolicited at my doorstep. The cover seriously does this book a disservice. A Totally Awkward Love Story is a teen romantic comedy in the vein of movies like Can’t Hardly Wait.

Basically, if you enjoyed those comedies back in the day, you will absolutely get laughs out of A Totally Awkward Love Story. It’s silliness and hijinks and hooking up. It’s also British, so it’s comfortable with discussing sex in a way that Americans don’t tend to achieve. The voices are strong and engaging, and I basically read this one straight through. The supporting cast remains pretty surface level, but entertaining.

As a romance, it’s a bit eh. Like, in the start I was  totally all for Sam and Hannah, but they proceed to have a bunch of stupid fights and I was kind of over them as a ship by the time the ship actually sailed. It’s more about their missed opportunities and the hilarious drama than it is about love tbh. I did like that the whole thing was built around Hannah’s obsession with Friends as she looked for her lobster though.

If you’re looking for a fun read with lots of humor and sex jokes, look no further.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (136): A Totally Awkward Love Story; The Lonely Hearts HotelThe Lonely Hearts Hotel Narrator: Julia Whelan
Length: 12 hrs, 5 mins
Published by Penguin Audio on February 7, 2017
Genres: Historical
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
one-star

With echoes of The Night Circus, a spellbinding story about two gifted orphans in love with each other since they can remember whose childhood talents allow them to rewrite their future.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with the power of legend. An unparalleled tale of charismatic pianos, invisible dance partners, radicalized chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians, brooding clowns, and an underworld whose economy hinges on the price of a kiss. In a landscape like this, it takes great creative gifts to thwart one's origins. It might also take true love.

Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1910. Before long, their talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing clown routines, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen.

Separated as teenagers, sent off to work as servants during the Great Depression, both descend into the city's underworld, dabbling in sex, drugs and theft in order to survive. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes after years of searching and desperate poverty the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they'll go to extreme lengths to make them come true. Soon, Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls have hit New York, commanding the stage as well as the alleys, and neither the theater nor the underworld will ever look the same.

With her musical language and extravagantly realized world, Heather O'Neill enchants us with a novel so magical there is no escaping its spell.

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK DID I JUST READ? And, I know you’re probably thinking that I’m being really fucking melodramatic right now, because I started out a review with yelling, but no seriously WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BOOK? The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a disgusting, erotic portrayal of a bunch of fucked up shit; it’s not a powerful love story like the blurb will have you believe.

It’s my own fault that I read this, because it’s not like I shouldn’t have known better from the moment the audiobook started. The Lonely Hearts Hotel opens with a twelve-year-old being raped by her cousin and getting pregnant. She’s sent to a hospital with a bunch of other young, shamed pregnant girls, dubbed Ignorance, and births one of the main characters of The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Pierrot. So yeah, I was disgusted by that opener, but Julia Whelan’s performance is excellent, and I kept going. I think I just felt like surely there had to be some reason this book was so horrendously offensive and hateful and revolting, so I kept listening to see why. That was a mistake.

Both Rose and Pierrot (not their actual names, but these fit their manic pixie souls better) grow up in an orphanage. They’re both special, strange children. One of the nuns at the orphanage begins sexually abusing Pierrot starting when he is eleven years old, and the book makes sure to inform you that his penis was already large for his age. (There will be several occasions on which the book likes to remind you that Pierrot is magnificently endowed.) Why didn’t I stop? I really don’t know. I was just so fucking horrified by this book that I wanted to see WHY this shit was happening. I finished and I still don’t know. The book doesn’t condone this shit, but it’s also really graphic and filled with constant sexual content.

My face for all 12 hours (why o why did i do this to myself?)

Pierrot, as a result of the sexual abuse, becomes obsessed with sex; he calls himself a pervert. In addition to the actual sex in the book, there are constant dirty fantasies. Not yet a teen, he imagines all the women and girls in the orphanage giving him blow jobs. Eventually, Pierrot realizes how much he hates what Sister Elise has been doing to him, and he wants to be with Rose, who he loves. Sister Elise catches on and beats Rose almost to death for a minor infraction. Meanwhile, Pierrot gets adopted.

This book is a constant, hypersexualized portrayal of Rose and Pierrot. Over the course of the novel, Pierrot has a series of lovers and develops a heroin addiction which will eventually kill him. Rose, meanwhile, in her upper teens, becomes the mistress of the family for which she had been a governess. When she finally escapes that guy (who’s a mob boss and terribly obsessed with Rose bc she’s magical), she ends up working in porn until she finally finds Pierrot.

I’d sort of expected this book to be about the two manic pixies who are kept apart by terrible people and how sad that is because of their pure, perfect love. Only then that’s not even what goes down. They get married and are poor and tragic and Rose miscarries their child and Rose’s mob boss is still out to get her because he cannot recover. They end up setting up a clown revue (SO MANY CLOWNS) in NYC which is used as a front to smuggle drugs for the mob boss to another mob boss. Rose wants to kill the mob boss and set up fabulous businesses, but Pierrot doesn’t want to so he cheats on her and goes back to heroin and dies alone

Rose is super successful running those businesses just as she planned. The conclusion comes when Elise shows up and tells her Pierrot has a child by his former prostitute girlfriend. Rose forgives Elise, who feels cleansed, which OH MY FUCKING GOD MAKES ME MURDEROUS, and adopts Pierrot’s kid, who will bring joy back to her world.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel has been tagged some as magical realism, but it’s more erotica with overgrown nature metaphors whenever there isn’t sex happening. This book is uncomfortable and I don’t know what the fucking point for that infuriating hateful mess was. (See, my swearing was justified. Clearly I hate myself for finishing this.) Really the only positive thing I can say is that the prose is good, but who the fuck cares if you write this shit with it.

I need to go take a fucking shower. Or five.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (136): A Totally Awkward Love Story; The Lonely Hearts Hotel”

  1. Lol wow, The Lonely Hearts Hotel sounds spectacularly bad. I had read a rave review of it but holy hell no. Won’t be attempting this one. But thanks for putting this review in the world because I admit I was intrigued.
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