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You Should Be So Lucky by Cat Sebastian


CW/TW

CW: death of a partner (in the past), death of a friend, some homophobia but no slurs and many supportive secondary characters

I’m in an unusual position here. Usually, Cat Sebastian novels are endlessly charming and they have caused many a Bad Decisions Book Club over the years. This one didn’t quite hit that same high for me, but I did still enjoy it. Let’s unpack this situation together.

Eddie O’Leary found out on national television that he was being traded to the Robins in New York. His outburst in response to the news could not have been worse and made national news, which made him absolutely no friends on his new baseball team. Not only is Eddie lonely now in his new city, but he’s in a major batting slump, too.

Enter Mark Bailey, who is in a slump of his own. His partner, William, died just over a year prior to the book starting and the man has been absolutely beaten down by his loss. He’s kind of still writing for the Chronicle (yes, the newspaper that served as the setting for Nick and Andy’s love story in We Could Be So Good) but only writes book reviews.

Andy’s got a bright vision though and Mark is just the person to make it happen. Andy wants Mark to write a weekly diary from Eddie’s perspective. The Chronicle is also launching a new Sunday magazine and Andy wants Mark to write a feature article on the Robins for the magazine when it launches in October, the end of baseball season.

So Mark goes to the Robins locker room after a game and introduces himself. Mark is well-dressed, a tiny bit camp and a bit mean. Eddie is an absolute golden retriever with no filter and just desperate for someone to talk to. (His new team has been giving him the silent treatment). So Mark and Eddie begin their interviews that will form the basis of the newspaper article and the magazine article.

As is so often the case in Sebastian books, the two characters fall in love through conversations, but in this case, the conversations are initially rather short. In the first half of the book, or so, there’s not a lot of chatting between our main characters. Mostly they are interacting with the secondary characters (teammates, editors, friends, etc.) This was a little frustrating as I wanted to experience the magic of conversation-leading-to-love right off the bat.

But first, they have a lot of individual growth to complete. Mark needs to find purpose in life again and move forward despite the grief. Eddie needs to get his swing back and make friends with his teammates. Their lives are full.

At about the midway point, we start to have many many more conversations between Eddie and Mark. And I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I think there were too many conversations circling around the same central tension with no progress being made for long stretches. The central tension of the book was already identified in the blurb: “Mark has vowed that he’ll never be someone’s secret ever again, and Eddie can’t be out as a professional athlete.” This point is discussed ad infinitum. I appreciate that for the time period it would have been an impossible hurdle, but the circular discussions grew tedious.

At about 60% of the way through, I got thoroughly bored of it all. Without all the dithering, the story would have had a tighter, more propulsive conclusion. I can kind of see what the ‘dark moment’ of the plot might have been, but by that stage I was too bored with it to care. Maybe this was all a symptom of the book just being too long overall. It was just over 400 pages.

So these are my gripes in a nutshell: initially not enough conversation between our leads and then too many conversations on the same topic.

That being said, there is a huge amount to like about this book. I adored how nuanced and developed the secondary characters were. I enjoyed the historical detail and the introduction to a sport with which I am wholly unfamiliar. Incidentally, that did not stand in the way of enjoying this book, but I’m sure baseball fans will enjoy that aspect more than I did. I enjoyed Mark’s mean streak which is really thinly veiled vulnerability. I loved that Eddie is completely incapable of having a poker face or of filtering his words. It brought a lovely energy to the familiar trope of grumpy/sunshine.

I still read this book in a weekend and it’s really well-written too. I will absolutely be picking up Cat Sebastian’s next novel and I do recommend this one. I am curious, though, if others had a different experience with the sections of the book that bothered me.



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