Title: Just The Way I Am
Author: Jo Watson
Genre: Fiction/ Romance
Source: Kindle Recommendation
Favourite Quote: ‘You are strong, stronger than you know, and one day everything is going to be okay.’
‘Jane Doe’ can only remember two things after her accident. One, she hates hospitals. Like REALLY hates hospitals. Why? She doesn’t remember, but the deep scars on her body probably have something to do with it. Two, she remembers Noah. The paramedic with the blue eyes who held her hand and made her feel safe and calm. Without him around, she feels nothing but fear, claustrophobia and panic. It just so happens that Noah mentioned his address on a phone call at the hospital, giving her a place to run too. He’s just as shocked to see her standing outside his door, and decides to take the role as her official guardian until her memories come back.
She tries to piece together her life by trying things for the first time all over again, making a list as she goes of her newly discovered likes and dislikes. Her new life is full of colour, excitement, spicy food, chocolate and Netflix with Noah whilst making new friends along the way. It doesn’t take long for the detective to knock on the door giving her her life back on paper. Her name – Zenobia – or Zen for short, doesn’t fit her at all. Zoe on the other hand feels just right. She’s excited to visit the place she’s called home for so long expecting it to be full of colour, plants and fun vibrant clothing, only to discover the complete opposite. Her old life is beige, empty, bland and the only colour she can find are the bottles of disinfectant on her shelf. How could she be so wrong? This isn’t her, so who is she?
‘How could I have been so wrong about something like this? Something so fundamental, like who I really was. I’d been convinced that in the last few days I’d managed to piece parts of myself together, but it was clear from this place that I’d been sorely mistaken. The picture I’d had of myself had been utterly incorrect. Fundamentally wrong. ~
I collapsed onto the couch, utterly defeated. Everything that had made me feel alive and buoyant only a short while ago had been sucked out of me by this place and the realisation that I was nothing like the person I thought I was. My head fell forward and I put my elbows on my knees, unable to hold up the weight of this realisation on my own.’
“This is who I am,” I said, hanging my head even lower as the invisible weight pushed down on me. “I’m not the person on my list.”‘
This book hit me right in the feels. One of my favourite fiction romance books ‘Love To Hate You’ was written by Jo Watson so I was already expecting it to hit the right spot for me. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. It made me laugh, it made me cry and I craved more of the witty romance that came to life in this story. It took a while for the story to really build up and felt a bit slow to start with but it created a great purpose for character development.
‘Zoe’ was a great protagonist. After waking up in the hospital after the accident, she didn’t know who she was, where she lived, whether she had any family or even what her favourite colour was. She only knew two things – she hates hospitals and Noah; the paramedic who held her hand and made her feel safe. I loved her character build up, a scared 29 year old living life for the first time all over again to rediscover herself. She opened herself up to every opportunity in front of her and created a new life for herself as a creative, colourful, friendly person. After discovering her life is actually a lonely, scared, colourless woman with a desk job in the basement across the street with no friends, her more recent memories start to come back to her and it isn’t a life she expected to find or wants to continue as she tries to get back into a rhythm of her past self. Zoe goes through so many changes over the course of the book that you’ll come to love and understand her all the more as she begins to see life as a second chance.
‘We plunged into darkness and my shouting turned to laughter, which echoed in the tunnel. It smelt of warm chlorine, fiberglass and coconut sun screen. I think it was the best small I’d ever smelt before. This was the smell of all the things I had missed growing up. This was the smell of hot, sticky summers spent by the pool, of friends’ birthday parties and eating too much cake, of running through sprinklers laughing and going on merry-go-rounds until you’re so dizzy that you fall over. I wanted to bottle it and keep it because it now reminded me of joy. Pure, unadulterated joy.’
Noah was the type of love interest we all want in our romance novels. He’s kind, thoughtful, chivalrous and utterly romantic when he finally allows himself the chance to give in to his feelings. He’s there for Zoe every step of the way as her guardian and friend as she goes through her rediscovery and connects to her on a level that you’ll come to understand more at the end – be prepared for some tears cus mine were real when the story came full circle. You’ll come to love him all the more as the story continues, his character doesn’t change and doesn’t have too, he will still melt your heart every step of the way.
I adored the additional characters in the story, it didn’t matter that you only had a few pages with each before moving on – some didn’t even have names, it was the impression they left behind with Zoe that was important. As Zoe goes through her transition to finding who she really is, the friendships she makes along the way give her a new perspective on life that she really needed, and that was knowing she wasn’t alone, with or without her memories. There is a reason she has no friends around her, another one of her fears she’s had since she was a child, so the impact the additional characters make along the way are sweet and heartwarming.
‘How could I be worried, with this night, the sea, the stars above me, and the wind blowing, causing goosebumps on my skin, and all the laughter. So much laughter. Coming from so many different people who I didn’t even know but for some strange reason felt a camaraderie with. Was this what it was like? Having friends? Having fun? Throwing all your worries and cares out the window, I was beginning to think it was. And this made me feel two things. Whilst I was happy, exhilarated, even, it was also making me sad. A deep sadness in the knowing of all the things I had lost growing up and missed out on in my life.’
This book was just what I needed to break apart from the fantasy and reading challenge I’ve set for myself. It had all the right pieces that fit perfectly well together and only got better along the way. As a romance that focused on Zoe and Noah’s characters, we all knew how it was going to end, but I did not expect the additional circle level of fate that came their way that made me emotional. It was perfect and gave the book the push I wanted to be 5 star.
Definitely pick this one up if you’re after a lovely romcom to fill your evening, it won’t disappoint!
Thanks for reading 🙂
Has Fate given her a second chance?
‘Zoe’ is having a very bad day. As if getting trapped in a faulty elevator wasn’t bad enough, losing her memory has made it much worse. If there’s one piece of luck, it’s that the paramedic on the scene, Noah, is both kind and a handsome distraction…
Now a completely blank canvas, with the help of Noah, ‘Zoe’ is excited to fill her world with colour, creativity and sweet and spicy food. She just knows from the tips of her toes, right to her fleek brows, that these things were all part of her make-up.
But when her identity is traced, the life ‘Zoe’ was living before the accident bears no resemblance to that of the person she’s convinced she is. What happened to make her world so narrow and colourless?
And now she has the chance to start over, is it time to let the real Zoe out?