Rachel Lynn Solomon's publicist characterises her as "a best-selling author of love stories for teens and adults". That blurb misses the point, at least the point which matters about the book.
Solomon herself describes her novel as a rom-com, "with no shortage of climate-related puns". Those puns (there might be a glut rather than any shortage) often take the form of sub-titles to chapters, the first being "cloudy, with a chance of public humiliation".
Solomon's heroine, though, does not quite fit the rom-com mould, even though that mould is copious enough to include Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice at one end and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman at the other. Solomon's Ari wages a battle against depression, now "mostly manageable, and it's taken her nearly a decade to get to that point".
In addition, therefore, to a meet-cute, sundry misunderstandings, a few tears before bedtime, awkwardness and the distant prospect of a happy ending, Ari must navigate being on medication and in therapy. The "neuro-diverse" weather girl becomes more intriguing and more engaging as a result. Unusually for a rom-com, this novel is dedicated to "anyone searching for the light in the dark" and mentions three resources on which to draw if the text "is triggering to you".
We meet Ari after she has broken up with "a human trash can". Work as a junior weather girl in Seattle (Solomon's home town) is flawed by petty squabbles and unworthy colleagues. The doleful shadow of her ex-boyfriend lingers. Home life is slightly vicarious; Ari is sweetly close to her brother and his family.
One of the masters of the genre, Julia Roberts, recently claimed that, with rom-coms, "you're always thinking in terms of creating fun. It's a joy to play in that sandbox." Solomon inserts a few episodes of unrestrained glee. A sports writer empathises with Ari because he has been schooled to pursue underdog stories. A pre-teen announces that she has all the requisites for a sleep-over: hair dye, a DIY tattoo kit and fake ID.
More often, though, Solomon specialises in slow-burn humour. Ari and her accomplice, that sportswriter, concoct a scheme to reconcile their quarrelling bosses, who were married, still work together and drive each other mad. The plot's debt to The Parent Trap is readily acknowledged. Key components in their stratagems involve an ice hockey game, carrot cake, dance lessons, corporate team building and a couples massage.
Along the way, the weather girl engages in a number of extended dialogues. They sometimes drag. Solomon is an expert observer, revealing more of her characters through words. If the novel were to turn into a Netflix series, we would need Ari as a voice-over narrator.
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