Hahn, Erin. Never Saw You Coming. New York: Wednesday Books, 2021.
ISBN-13: 978-1250761248 | $18.99 USD | 320 pages | YA Contemporary Romance
“BOLD. IMPORTANT. BEAUTIFUL.” – Laura Taylor Namey, New York Times bestselling author of A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow
In Erin Hahn’s Never Saw You Coming, sometimes it takes a leap of faith to find yourself.
Eighteen-year-old Meg Hennessey just found out her entire childhood was a lie. So instead of taking a gap year before college to find herself, she ends up traveling north to meet what’s left of the family she never knew existed – all while questioning the ideals she grew up with.
While there, she meets Micah Allen, a former pastor’s kid whose dad ended up in prison, leaving Micah with his own complicated relationship with faith. The clock is ticking on his probation hearing and Micah, now 19, feels the pressure to forgive – even when he can’t possibly forget.
As Meg and Micah grow closer, they are confronted with the heavy flutterings of first love and all the complications it brings. Together, they must navigate the sometimes-painful process of cutting ties with childhood beliefs as they build toward something truer and straight from the heart.
“Heartfelt and utterly genuine… I already want to reread it.” – Erin A. Craig, New York Times bestselling author of Small Favors
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
I didn’t really look into what Never Saw You Coming was about…I just saw the cute cover and the name Erin Hahn, and I’d recently read one of her short stories and liked what I read, so figured, “why not?” Given the issue with branding expectations, I appreciate that Hahn provided context both in a content warning in the intro to the book and on Goodreads to help prepare me for the serious topics the book would grapple with along with the cute romance (as well as further going into her own experiences in the author’s note at the end). It helped me to be prepared.
I feel like this book is very much needed in its criticism of evangelical Christianity, with its “purity” culture and hypocrisy. I appreciate how Hahn digs into the way so-called “Christians” direct shame toward women for the way they dress and for sexual behavior, and to LGBTQ+ people for simply existing, while (mostly cishet male) authorities within the church are the ones with the skeletons in their closets. And while not immediately relevant to the text itself, I was moved by Hahn’s description of her experience querying Christian agents and publishers, who would tell her that she was “not a good fit,” because her characters weren’t “pious enough,” with further remarks about how Christian fiction publishers submission guidelines can be a “great” way to make you feel bad about yourself. And while I have a complicated love for some Christian fiction, I couldn’t help but see the truth in that; I mean, look at what won the RWA Vivian Religious and Spiritual Elements category.
I wasn’t sure how to feel about Meg or Micah at first, but as I got deeper into the book, I got the sense it was somewhat by design, due to the intense things both are dealing with. I really liked seeing how their shared membership of the church brought them together, but their feelings as the story went on led to them challenging the church and religious doctrine through their alternate perspectives influencing each other. It was great seeing them evolve from their prior beliefs, including that regarding premarital sex, and that religious faith can be so much more complex than extreme modesty to the point of objectification and restricting one’s normal human desires.
This book is really beautiful and unexpected, and I love that the focus is on how the man-made institutions of religion are the problem, and not on religious/spiritual belief in itself, although I can certainly see some less spiritually inclined readers not appreciating this book for that reason. However, this is definitely a book I’d recommend to everyone, due to the continued relevance of the topic and the beautiful way Hahn conveys her message.
ERIN HAHN is the author of You’d Be Mine, More Than Maybe, and Never Saw You Coming. She married her very own YA love interest, who she met on her first day of college, and has two kids who are much, much cooler than she ever was at their age. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a.k.a. the greenest place on earth, and has a cat named Gus who plays fetch and a dog named June who doesn’t.
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