Book Review: “A Little Something Different” by Sandy Hall

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A Little Something Different is a romantic comedy for anyone who dabbles in drabbles, a college age meet cute split up into 14 different points of view. When Lea and Gabe bump into each other at the beginning of the semester, their chemistry is obvious to everyone around them, from their best friends, their creative writing teacher, the local Starbucks baristas, to the park bench and a squirrel. With a shared love of Buffy, a joint class, and an instant attraction, getting together should be easy. If only Gabe could get over his issues and crippling shyness and Lea could get over her trepidation to make the first move.

The first book published by Swoon Reads, voted for by online readers, there is absolutely nothing pretentious about this novel or what it sets out to do – create a cute, lightweight, breath of fresh air RomCom. The drama is minimal, but there are enough near misses and almosts to keep the reader interested. Told with an anecdotal sense of humour and delight, it is a sure fire win for shippers and lovers of fluffy ‘will they, won’t they’ stories.

The large cast of narrators all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Hall creates a wonderful support network for the two…even if they are all a little bit hopeless in their matchmaking capabilities.

There is the masterminding of Inga, the creative writing teacher who annually picks out a couple of students from her class to root for, who can’t believe her luck when these two stumble into her love story weaving hands. Sharing her hopes for the would be couple with her wife Pam, Inga is a hilarious and flaky teacher who tries a little too hard to be cool.

Our would be villains come in the form of classmates Victor and Hillary, who couldn’t give less of a damn about the idiotic drama of Lea and Gabe. Victor would rather be anywhere else, and Hillary is a little too short sighted to notice that Gabe isn’t interested in her. Their lack of empathy for the situation is a brilliant twist of dark humour in an otherwise sticky sweet story. They make an excellent contrast to the over involved, well intended interference of Lea and Gabe’s best friends.

Further complications stem from Gabe’s hidden past, and the impending sense that some thing has happened that makes his intense shyness all the more explicable. I highly commend the sensitivity that Hall displays in revealing Gabe’s backstory and how it continues to effect his daily life in recognisable ways throughout the story. His problems were hugely relatable and believable without falling into melodrama.

Gabe is a sweet protagonist, faily, nerdy and prone to tripping over his own large feet when they aren’t firmly entrenched in his mouth. Lea’s attempts to fill in awkward silences without abandoning her safety net are likewise relatable and charming. You root for them both in their shy stumbles towards romance, even when you want to shake them both until they simply talk to each other.

Laugh out loud moments come from Squirrel! who delights in the friendship of the two humans, when he isn’t worried about the whereabouts of his acorns.

The writing is straight forward and sometimes lacks nuance in its use of tropes, but is all the same a fun and enjoyable escape. Perfect for Buffy, Gilmore Girls and Faking It fans, if you want a book you can dip into on a lazy Sunday afternoon to simply forget about your troubles, this is the book for you. A romantic comedy that will appeal to anyone who has ever blushed their way out of an awkward conversation with a crush.

This book was cute and unassuming, one for a rainy day!
This book was cute and unassuming, one for a rainy day!