April is kind, pretty, and relatively normal, yet she can't seem to get past date five. Gretel is perfect: beautiful but low maintenance, sweet but never clingy, sexy but not too easy. She's your regular everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door with no problems. When April starts pretending to be Gretel, dating becomes much more fun, especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua.
... puts a feminist spin on the traditional rom-com and doesn’t shy away from engaging in serious issues ... April is relatable, if not always endearing ... never fails to be candid, even about life’s bitter moments ... Despite its feminist message, Pretending doesn’t stray too far from the rom-com playbook. Finding the right guy is still the goal, and a happy ending is guaranteed. But Bourne adds depth by not shying away from the dark side of male-female relationships in this fresh, honest romance for the #MeToo era.
Though her relationship with Joshua drives much of the plot, the real journey is April’s alone as she fights off facing her trauma, then slowly learns to cope. This moving, funny debut is perfect for readers who are (rightfully!) cynical about the patriarchy but love a happy ending.
... such a rollercoaster of emotions. This book is cynical and sarcastic. This book is harsh, realistic, and a bit of a hater. Reading it feels like biting into a lemon, but that is exactly the point of it ... the sheer amount of negativity that oozes out of the book can sometimes become overwhelming. As a victim of sexual abuse, her feelings towards men are completely valid and understandable, but they may also be triggering for other recovering survivors. April is constantly rambling about how awful men are, but, for the most part of the novel, she does not try to decipher why she feels like that or how to stop herself from mindlessly hating an entire section of society ... It is not until almost the very end of the novel that our protagonist begins her journey towards recovery and self-discovery, and while April does become more and more self-aware, the very few pages Bourne gives her to grow and accept herself are not enough for the ending to be fulfilling ... Going back to that constant feeling of anger, the tone and plot sometimes become a bit flat, almost as if it went on circles. Nonetheless, the British author has some outstanding one-liners that delightfully add a sarcastic and witty side of comedic relief that balances out the harshness of the topics she deals with. Thanks to her snarky comments and the very necessary, taboo-free exploration of female sexuality, you will find yourself chuckling quietly quite a few times. Simultaneously, Pretending also dives into societal expectations on how both men and women are expected behave in heterosexual relationships ... an overall complex novel. It is angry and harsh, but it is also real and unafraid to speak about the ugly side of dating and romantic relationships. It demonstrates how the toughest judge is non-other than our own brain, driven by society’s unattainable standards, both for men and women.