Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“What happens when your ex writes the script?”
A very pleasant surprise! Typecast blew any expectations I had out the water, and it’s turned out to be a novel I’ll remember for a long time to come. An excellent take on its genre, such an addictive storyline and excellent characters you’ll love (or dislike…) instantly. I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for Andrea J. Stein‘s debut!
About the book
Callie Dressler thought she had put her past where it belonged—behind her. But when she learns her ex-boyfriend is bringing their breakup to the big screen, she must face the fact that their history has been looming over her all along.
At thirty-two, Callie Dressler is finally comfortable in her own skin. She loves her job as a preschool teacher, and although living in her vacant childhood home isn’t necessarily what dreams are made of, the space is something she never could have afforded if she’d stayed in New York City. She knows her well-ordered life will be upended when her type A, pregnant sister, Nina; adorable four-year-old niece; and workaholic brother-in-law move in, but how could she say no when they needed a place to crash during their remodel? As Nina pointed out, it is still their parents’ house, even though their mom and dad have relocated.
As if adjusting to this new living situation isn’t enough, the universe sends Callie another wrinkle: her college boyfriend, Ethan—who Callie dumped ten years earlier for reasons known only to her—has a film coming out, and the screenplay is based on their real-life breakup. While the movie consumes her thoughts, Callie can’t help wondering if Nina and her friends are right that she hasn’t moved on. When a complication with Nina’s pregnancy brings Callie in close contact with Nina’s smart and funny architect, Callie realizes she had better figure out whether she wants to open the door to the past—or she’ll risk missing out on her future.
Loved loved loved this opening! It took me no time at all to love our main character, Callie, and I instantly felt so involved in her life. We learn a bit about her relationship 10 years ago with screenwriter, Ethan, and how this guy (after all this time) is making a film… about their relationship. Understandably, this makes her think and brings those old memories to the surface, but it also makes her so curious about WHY he’s doing this – I’d feel exactly the same! I loved how we’re instantly thrown into plot; we don’t need to guess where things are heading or what the book will offer us, and I really liked that. But we aren’t entirely sure why these two broke up in the first place which made me intrigued. The author writes with such an engaging tone that just made me want to keep picking this book back up regularly. It was a really flawless opening! I was so excited to see what was in store for Callie the more I read and I was curious to see what this author was capable of!
Aside from the stress of the upcoming feature film lingering on her mind, there’s also the issue of Nina and Michael, Callie’s pregnant sister and brother-in-law who are moving into their parents house with their daughter, the house that Callie moved into seven years prior. And also the fact that she just can’t seem to find a suitable man. Not that she cares right now, but her good friend and colleague, Tess, seems to want her to settle down more than she does! The humour the author injects into her writing as we hear about many many failed dates was excellent, and we learn just how picky Callie is when it comes to finding a soulmate. Would anything ever compare to what she had with Ethan all those years ago? Would the prospect of seeing him in person after a decade be enough to send her head over heels again? Other characters (such as Tess) were written just as well as our main character, and I instantly warmed to them too. I really wanted Callie to cross paths with Ethan again so I could see if there was still something that could be reignited!
“There’s stuff that maybe I never dealt with. Stuff that this movie has stirred up for me. And if I want to move on, I need to figure out how to put it to rest.”
The book cleverly alternates between Callie’s life before and after her break up with Ethan, and I loved flicking back and forth to how they met and how their relationship blossomed, to how their relationship led to a break up. What was even more unique was that the author changed from third to first person which worked so well! We finally meet Callie’s sister, Nina, and I instantly took a dislike to her. She seemed the complete opposite of her sister and the way she spoke to her made my blood boil! The author has done an exceptional job in creating her character, and even though I didn’t like her much right now, I was still looking forward to seeing how the siblings living together would alter their relationship. It was great to hear more about their childhood and their lives years into the past, and just how this changed over time as they became adults. The author delves deep into her characters’ lives to help us really get to know every part of them which was excellent.
Callie gives online dating a go and connects with a guy called Jason. I got a good vibe from him here, and so did Callie as she finally entertains the idea of a back and forth conversation. Callie also meets Ben, an architect who is working on her sister’s house. He also sounded like a nice and suitable person for her as first impressions go! I had the urge to jump into the book to help Callie work out all the pros and cons of all these men! But as we hear more about how Callie and her ex Ethan met, I couldn’t help but love their story and at this stage, I really wanted them to reconnect! I couldn’t predict where things would go – would they reunite and hate each other? Could a fresh start with Jason or even Ben be everything Callie needed in her life? I couldn’t wait to find out! The start of the book was great and gives the reader so much to think about without things becoming overwhelming, and I was dying to dig deeper into Callie’s life and her thoughts.
The description throughout the book so far was great. It was so easy to visualise everything that was going on, and the details the author put into this description created such a clear picture in my mind. The more we get to know Callie’s sister, the more I was coming around to liking her. She wasn’t perfect, but I liked the conversations she started to have with Callie, giving her that big sister advice that would prove to be invaluable later. Hearing about Callie’s date with Jason was quite humourous and a little cringey in parts, and this just added to the charm of the book. But Ben was definitely growing on me with each time they bumped into one another. I found myself thinking about what would be best for Callie as if she was my own friend, and I hated the idea of her being hurt, or not finding someone who would treat her with care or respect. I really liked how effortlessly the author seemed to reel me in, with no sign of things slowing!
I liked the attention to detail when it came to Callie’s job as a preschool teacher. It was great getting to know the work side of her and the things she experiences in her day job. It just felt as though I knew Callie so well at this point, and I find it rare that I feel so involved in a character and their lives this early on in a book. What I also loved was how this job provides a surprising opportunity for Callie to travel to an Early Years conference in LA, the place where Ethan now lives. Was she meant to go on this trip? To reconnect and maybe catch up with her old flame? The suspense of these two meeting (because they HAVE to meet don’t they?!) was written so well and was perfectly paced. However, we had another date to get through first, no matter how much Callie wasn’t up for it… I could sense that there’d be more great humour from these characters, a deeper story and maybe a happy ending for Callie in the second half of the book – the first half was a joy to read!
“Part of her was surprised that he felt he owed her an explanation – that he didn’t think she deserved whatever she got. After all she’d put him through, did he still care about her?”
We finally get closer to the reason why Callie and Ethan broke up all those years ago, and the cliff hangers here had me desperate to read more! We’re only given hints so far, but I loved using my imagination to think about all the possibilities. I became obsessed with Callie and Ethan’s past, and I literally squealed when Callie received an email from Ethan; their first contact in ten whole years. Ten years! And he wants them to meet. Argh! I loved how this contact from Ethan was so unexpected and it really gave the book a whole new sense of excitement and something different to look forward to. Callie’s thoughts and feelings seemed to radiate through the book and into my own brain thanks to the author’s brilliant words – I felt as though I was experiencing all this alongside her! However, there was still Ben. The guy that always seemed to cheer her up. The guy who had some sort of hold over her. I guess seeing Ethan in person would (hopefully) make some decisions easier. Or would they be more difficult?!
As we finally find out the reasoning behind Callie and Ethan’s split, so much made sense and I 100% sided with Callie. She absolutely did the right thing and what was best for her at the time, and I couldn’t fault her for that. Although I probably wouldn’t have broken up with him via phone call! It also made me think more about what was best for Callie in the long run and I had a few ideas in mind for which way her future would go. I couldn’t fault the author’s writing in the slightest; everything has unfolded perfectly and the pacing continued to be so satisfying. I did begin to dislike Nina again as she brings up the fact that Callie is living in her parents’ house without finding a place of her own, but this just made me love the author’s character creation even more. With Callie and Ethan meeting very soon, I had so many thoughts about how the book would end. Would Ethan’s film bring them closer again or make her realise she’d made the right choice ten years ago?
The more time Callie spent with Ben, the more it was clear they were just made for one another. They are literally the cutest pair in the world (look at me writing them off as a couple already…) Comparing Callie’s boring dates with Jason to just one coffee with Ben showed us just how much of a difference it makes spending some time with the right person. Even though I felt I knew Callie really well already, hearing some extra detail about how she felt leaving college before the big move to California made me feel a little emotional – how she’d missed out on so many adventures with her friends because she’d been too busy in her relationship. It was written perfectly yet again, and it really does make you think about what’s important! I loved it. The author writes relationships of all kinds with such care and attention, and in doing so, it creates such a magical feel, something I just couldn’t get enough of!
The book was certainly turning more and more romantic compared to the rest of the book – the balance between family, life, drama and relationships was perfectly balanced and I so enjoyed joining Callie as she worked out the big old puzzle that was her thoughts and feelings. She enjoys time with Ben and all her worries seem to melt away when they’re together; simply reading these scenes lifted my spirits and put a big smile on my face. But when he asks about Ethan, issues arise. Without meeting him, Callie can’t put it to rest. To make the right decision. To decide what was right for her. I admired her honesty, but I also really felt for her as Ben drives away after a wonderful date. She was running out of time. Would she let Ben get away after waiting so long for the right one to come along? I certainly felt more and more attached and hooked on the story as the ending approached, and looking back on the whole story up until this point, it was so brilliantly put together that I’d put it up there in some of my top reads in this genre in recent years!
“But all these years later, had Callie pulled herself together? Had she forgiven herself for what she’d done to Ethan? And what about what she’d done to herself? Had she even acknowledged that?”
The powerful paragraphs continued as we flick back and forth through time in Callie’s life. I was completely immersed in everything the author so perfectly describes. I loved joining Callie when she gets the realisation that she needs to build a life of her own, to get her own place, to be with someone that would make her life complete. And I loved how her friend Tess is there for her, whatever she needs. We all need a Tess in our lives! But what really grabbed me was just how much we’re plunged into the past, into what she did that made her feel so low, and what this meant for her life going forward. I feel like I understood her so well and I really wanted to give her a hug. The emotion I felt alongside Callie in this stage of her life was just off the scale; I felt her fear, her sadness and even her determination when she realised what she had to do to make things right. She’s such a strong character and I loved her more with each page that passed.
Callie’s meeting with Ethan was as insightful as I’d expected, but what I loved most about it was how Callie felt afterwards. She knew exactly what she wanted. She could close the door to that part of her life, the part she’d always felt uncertain about. I loved how this part of the book tells us that it’s okay to make mistakes and that everything that happens can lead us onto something better. It felt refreshing and provided food for thought, and I felt so much more optimistic about what those final pages would be like. The ‘Now’ chapter at the ending of the book was simply beautiful, and it was so satisfying seeing exactly where Callie was in her life and how her chat with Ethan had changed things for her for the better. It was filled with uplifting paragraphs and my smile wouldn’t leave! Reading about Callie’s life and experiences has been one I’ll never forget – I already can’t wait for what’s next from this author!
I loved this book so much – I just wish I’d read it sooner! Typecast captures life in all its crazy and beautiful forms. It’s the contemporary fiction book that will make you ponder life’s decisions, the romance that fills you with hope, love and joy. It’ll have you turning each page with urgency, it’ll fill your heart with emotion and it will occupy your every waking thought. Basically, it’s perfect in every way. Callie, the main character, is one of the best, most brilliantly developed characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading about this year, her story so unique and captivating that I don’t think it’ll ever leave me. Just phenomenal! A true gem. Will absolutely be recommending!
Huge thanks to the author, Andrea J. Stein and Netgalley for my copy of this book to read and review! You can grab your own copy of Typecast over on Amazon, available on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter and Instagram for updates.
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