Book Review: You Don’t Have to say You Love Me

Neve Slater’s self-esteem is buried somewhere underneath her size 32 waist-line. She battles to fit herself into a size 10 in order to finally attract the attention of her love interest William, and decides to enter a ‘pancake relationship’ with the sex-god celebrity journalist Max.

Max’s social reputation as a full-time jerk with the ability to charm the knickers off any woman was Neve’s sure-fire guarantee that she would never fall in love with him. So to gear up for WIlliam’s return to the country and back into her life, Max offers to be her ‘pancake boyfriend’ —- the first pancake relationship in her life which is bound to be imperfect and not made to last.

‘We both got so obsessed about that first pancake being thrown away that we forgot something really important,’ Max explained. ‘That first pancake tastes just as good as all the other ones. It’s not its fault that it was first in line and the pan wasn’t hot enough so it got a bit lumpy and misshapen.’
‘And when you’re really famished that first pancake tastes better than all the ones that come after it,’ 

Here we have a pair of perfectly compatible man and woman too busy coming up with excuses for how they should not be together, that they fail to see how right they are for each other. Happens a lot, no?

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“That was the worst thing about having a relationship with someone, even a pretend relationship. You opened up, let someone in, and when it was over, they had all the ammunition they needed to completely destroy you.” 

You don’t have to be a snarky bitch to love their verbal sparring and offhand flirtations. Manning’s fabulous plot is moulded by her wonderfully written prose with comedic interjections that made this novel so enjoyable. The shallow man-whore becomes the tamed romantic. The nerdette with oversized hips gains confidence through her unlikely pancake soulmate, and when WIlliam inevitably returns to the country, Max has to let go of Neve, to whom he eventually confesses that

“We don’t stop, not even when we reach the finish line. It’s a journey for life, Neve.”

I fell in love with the book cover (with the lips) the moment I’d laid eyes on it, and I’ve never even heard of Sarra Manning until I bought the book on impulse. I fell in love with it further when I found out that the male character Max has the typical outlook of a bad-boy I personally would love, with a secret mellow side he only shows to a selected few. Personally, I felt that Manning’s novel gives off a more realistic vibe in comparison to the plethora of chick-lit on popular best-selling shelves. I fell deeply in love with the book somewhere past the middle point with the ferocity with which Max was delivering the duties of being Neve’s trial lover. His conviction was the reason this make-believe relationship stood apart from commercialized versions of love. It was literally as if he was telling Neve: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me.

“She was so fed up with unrequited love and platonic love and all the other kinds of love that weren’t passionate, romantic, can’t-live-without-you, I-have-to-have-you-right-now, the-beat-of-your-heart-matches-the-beat-of-mine love.” 

This book is about finding your way around unfamiliar grounds and learning to push past perceived boundaries that any physical characteristics has limited you to.

Author: Sarra Manning
Paperback: 560 pages
Publisher: Corgi (February 3rd, 2011)
Rating: 8.5 / 10

If this were to be made into a movie…

NEVE SLATER – bookish, good-natured fat girl: Scarlett Johansson
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MAX – celebrity journalist, smooth-talking ladies’ man: Justin Timberlake
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CELIA SLATER – the bubbly, devious younger sister: Karlie Kloss – always encouraging, fun, and effortlessly perfect
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WILLIAM – the long-time friend who is unattainably perfect: Matthew Lewis
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SYNOPSIS:
Sweet, bookish Neve Slater always plays by the rules. And the number one rule is that good-natured fat girls like her don’t get guys like gorgeous, handsome William, heir to Neve’s heart since university. But William’s been in LA for three years, and Neve’s been slimming down and re-inventing herself so that when he returns, he’ll fall head over heels in love with the new, improved her.

So she’s not that interested in other men. Until her sister Celia points out that if Neve wants William to think she’s an experienced love-goddess and not the fumbling, awkward girl he left behind, then she’d better get some, well, experience.

What Neve needs is someone to show her the ropes, someone like Celia’s colleague Max. Wicked, shallow, sexy Max. And since he’s such a man-slut, and so not Neve’s type, she certainly won’t fall for him. Because William is the man for her… right?

Somewhere between losing weight and losing her inhibitions, Neve’s lost her heart – but to who?

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