Full of wit and funnies, ‘The Falling In Love Montage’ is a heartwarming queer read
Another addition to the fake-dating trope, “The Falling in Love Montage” by Ciarra Smyth, a queer romantic novel brings together two teen European lesbians, Saoirse and Ruby, for quite literally a summer montage of dates replicating date scenes from popular rom-coms before they head to university.
Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be whisked away on adventurous, non-complicating dates by your accidental soul-mate? One of the two girls just may not want that. You’ll have to read and see. I give the book a solid 4 out of 5 stars.
The dates, however, had strict, just fun, no complications rules about them. Saoirse did not want to catch feelings after having her heart broken, and spoiler alert, she failed to tell Ruby these rules.
The novel itself is a fast read; it is witty and full of laugh-out-loud kind of funnies, with a lot of heart. However, I personally feel like the ending was too abrupt, and I got too attached to an idea that didn’t pan out.
What I find interesting about this book in comparison to other entertainment with queer characters attached to it, is the use of the word lesbian.
I find this endearing and it makes for a great first queer-related read.
Rarely do we ever, as TV and movie watchers, hear lesbian characters say the word “lesbian.” They typically refrain from the word, and rather use “gay” instead. I don’t know if they are afraid of saying lesbian, but Saoirse certainly isn’t.
Relationship drama and her mother having dementia aside, Saoirse is 100% proud of all parts of her identity, and so is her family.
Her dad even had no problem saying lesbian and poking fun at his daughter about her likeness towards Ruby.
“A new ‘friend.’ Ruby, eh?,” he said, winking at Saoirse as she was about to leave for Ruby’s house. “Go on, Saoirse, get out of here. Go say hello to Ruby for me. Ruby and Saoirse sitting in a tree.”
He poked fun, and she cringed, as a dad and his young adult daughter would. There was this feeling of natural-ness and calmness about the scene as it played out, you could imagine it happening and the two joking with each other.
I really loved the fact that this wasn’t a coming out story, and this wasn’t a story of a relationship that had one of the girl’s family disapproving of their relationship. The book has tear-jerking moments between Saoirse and her mother, but for the most part, it is light-hearted and was a feel-good story, especially for a queer girl.
That aside, I honestly didn’t connect as well with Saoirse as I did with Ruby. Saoirse was much more boarded up than Ruby, in a way that wasn’t healthy. It felt like Saoirse did not know what she wanted (in a career, in life, and most definitely in a relationship), and Ruby got caught in the cross-fire of it all. There was a severe lack of communication between the two.
And though their dates, which ironically were romantic and relationship-worthy, Saoirse would cut off certain conversations as Ruby brought them up.
She kept everything in small-talk form, not asking Ruby questions about her life but remaining suspicious about Ruby’s life, wiggling around the conversation and often asking others about Ruby instead of asking Ruby herself. She intentionally kept the relationship working this way, creating this kind of push-and-pull away bond that was equally annoying as it was addicting to read.
I wanted them to be together, like for real. As a reader, I needed that, and I wanted them to work so badly.
The chemistry was undeniable; between Ruby making Saoirse watch corny romantic movies, making a list of popular rom-com scenes they wanted to replicate and then the actual reading of the dates panning out. They went to the carnival and rode the Ferris wheel, they frolicked in a field, took a “boat” ride (it’ll make sense if you read the full book). All of it was everything I needed; it was fun, hilarious, romantic but complicated.
They would come very close to having conversations about Saoirse’s mother and the toll it took on her when Saoirse would shut down the conversation and start on something else.
It felt like something was missing, and the writing at times seemed rushed and blunt.
I wanted to sit both Saoirse and Ruby down over an oat-milk latte and just say “communicate with each other.” I wanted the writer to make them talk, but this is a fake-dating story; there’s definitely not going to be a happy ending.
I won’t go into detail, because I’d rather you read the story on your own and live through the vivacious style of writing, but I was not exactly thrilled with the ending.
Though it had a beautiful message of Saoirse finally knowing who she is, what she wants and accepting her new normal, it cuts off the story with a possible bud of a blooming relationship.
It felt awkward and rushed, and the ending could have been told without that bit. It could have been a start of a friendship as she entered college or her speaking with an adviser of sorts.
I remember reading the end and saying to myself, “That’s it?”
Needless to say, the book had its ups and downs. I liked the quick-witted, hilarious writing, how snappy it felt all mixed with the feel-good romance between these two girls who were definitely in love with each other (sorry, another spoiler). There were definitely some things about it I just wasn’t keen on; the lack of communication between the girls and of course, an ending that didn’t pan out.