Review: Read Bottom Up

Read Bottom UpNeel Shah and Skye Chatham, Read Bottom Up

This epistolary novel tells the story of a 21st-century romance solely through emails and texts. Elliot and Madeline meet at a restaurant opening in New York City and slowly begin to communicate through emails, texting, and finally in-person interactions. But they’re not only communicating with each other; they’re also in simultaneous conversations with their best friends, David and Emily respectively, as they frantically over-analyze each interaction down to the very last comma. Elliot and Madeline tentatively embark upon a relationship while navigating modern dating pitfalls such as how to wait the appropriate amount of time before responding to a text, or how to tell the difference between a date and a group hang. But beyond all the angst and analysis, are they actually right for each other?

I picked up this book from the library on a whim and found it a quick, pleasant read. I love a good epistolary novel, and I’m especially interested in modern-day versions that utilize technology like emails and texting. Moreover, the epistolary format emphasizes the paradox that despite all the modes of communication available to Elliot and Madeline, they are actually pretty bad at communicating honestly with each other. This drives the conflict in the book, as well as most of its humor. I have to say, I wasn’t particularly enamored of Elliot or Madeline, especially the former; I’m not quite sure why Madeline is so interested in such a bland guy. The best friends, David and Emily, are actually more interesting characters, but that’s probably because they’re offering genuine opinions, not censoring themselves to please a potential love interest. Overall, I think this novel is a pretty accurate representation of modern dating, and it’s a pleasant way to spend an evening, but there’s nothing particularly deep or emotionally resonant about it.

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