Overcoming Preconceptions in Written in the Stars

Review:

Written in the Stars

By  Alexandria Bellefleur

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Romance/Contemporary Literature

QUILTBAG Main Character: Yes

QUILTBAG Minor Character: Yes

Main Character of Color: No

Bechdel Test: Yes

Summary: 

Darcy knows what she needs and what she doesn’t need is her little brother trying to set her up after her serious relationship falls apart. The last date he set up was a total disaster but, rather than confessing this, Darcy lies, telling her brother how much fun she had and how she will totally call Elle again. Elle, meanwhile, is looking for the forever kind of love. Still, she has family issues of her own, mostly revolving around the way her family doesn’t think much of her career or love life. So, reluctantly. Elle agrees to continue a fake relationship with Darcy, just long enough to get both their families off their backs. It’s only pretend. It doesn’t mean anything. Right?

Let’s Get A Little Deep:

Ah, fake dating. There are so many tropes I am a hardcore sucker for, but fake dating is right up at the top of the list. I love pretend feelings becoming real, and I love watching characters learn that maybe the person they think they are pretending to be might be closer to who they are than they first thought. Mostly, I love those moments when they have to admit it isn’t fake anymore. I’ll never get tired of it, particularly not when the author makes it gay.

Written in the Stars is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice with a queer tilt. Darcy, a very literal-minded woman recovering from a split engagement, uses her heartache as a shield, pushing away anything or anyone that might get close enough to break her. After her mother’s own failed relationships, it just seems safer for Darcy to keep her heart locked up. Elle, an astrologist and believer in soulmates, wears her heart on her sleeve, follows her gut, and believes a life without love isn’t worth living. Both of them misunderstand each other, but, as the story goes on, they learn that they have a lot of misunderstandings about themselves as well.

I love stories that use tropes as a way of telling complex character-driven stories, and Written in the Stars does it perfectly. Darcy’s constant fear of putting herself out there causes her to misunderstand Elle, to see her as a flighty devil-may-care adult who hasn’t had any real hardship. She projects her own insecurities and fears onto Elle. Meanwhile, Elle knows Darcy is exactly the kind of put-together partner that her family would love. After all, Darcy has a real job and a life that seems perfectly reasonable to her family. Elle projects onto Darcy all the ways she, Elle, has failed to live up to the expectations of others.

Weaving between the dual points of view, Written in the Stars shows how dangerous and soul-crushing projecting onto others really is. Darcy and Elle’s collective inability to see past their own fears and anxieties is the biggest hurtle in their not-so-fake relationship. Darcy can’t conceive of an Elle that wouldn’t hurt her, and Elle can’t conceive of a Darcy that is emotionally vulnerable– neither of them seeing the whole picture of the other. Only once they remove those preconceived notions are they able to find the love they both need, even if they didn’t know they need it.

At times uproariously funny and at others heartfelt enough to make me tear up, Written in the Stars is the perfect book to read as we head into the holidays. It is full of deeply interesting characters and a carefully crafted plot. This book is the kind that I’m sure I’ll reread again both because it is deeply human and also a total comfort read.


Thanks for going a little deep with me! I post reviews every other Thursday. Did you love Written in the Stars? Leave a comment telling me your sign and if you believe in astrology. You can also find me on Twitter @gwasserst! Special thanks to Yasi (@yasaminnb) for editing my posts.

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