All Kian wants is to become a journalist. He knows he’s got the chops, but finding a way, any way, to prove it is hard in this market. And on the very day he gets his umpteeth rejection from an internship, Kian is feeling particularly down. To make matters worse, Hudson Rivers, his ex, reaches out with the worst idea in the history of bad ideas: to fake being boyfriends for three days. Kian knows he should just say no. He even throws a drink in Hudson’s face to make his point. But while Hudson might not act like a wealthy snob, he’s no stranger to using money and calling in favors to get what he wants. In this case, Hudson dangles a job opportunity at a news outlet to convince Kian to play along, all so Hudson can keep a failed relationship a secret from his parents.
It’s not hard for Kian to fake it. After all, Hudson is wealthy and wildly attractive. If all Kian has to do is pretend they never broke up so Hudson can save face when Mr. and Mrs. Rivers come visit their son…well, Kian can handle that. Probably. What he’s not prepared for is the impromptu invite to be Hudson’s plus one for a family wedding. Spending several days in the lap of luxury at the Rivers’ estate, only knowing Hudson? That’s a big task. But Kian wants a shot at being a real journalist more than anything, so he agrees and hopes for the best. Before long, it’s all Kian can do to remind himself none of this is real — both the pleasure of being the center of Hudson’s attention and the pain of knowing Hudson doesn’t really want him back. But as the wedding approaches and Kian starts remembering the kind of strong, confident man Hudson is, it’s hard not to fall all over again. But falling in love is one thing. Staying in love, staying committed, is quite another. When the wedding hits a monumental snag and all eyes turn to Kian, it will be a real test to see if Hudson really can stand by the man he claims to love.
I’m So (Not) Over You is a contemporary romance by author Kosoko Jackson. The setting starts off in Boston where Kian gets propositioned by Hudson to fake getting back together for “maybe three days, tops.” Then we move to the Rivers’ family estate in Georgia. One theme common in both places is how out of place Kian feels. In Boston, there’s the inescapable fact that he is one of very few POCs. In Georgia, it’s the fact that he’s not part of the 1%. The story is told in first person from Kian’s perspective and I liked reading how Kian experiences the world and events as a Black man, a typical middle class person, and a man just trying his best to be over his ex. Another theme is how Kian struggles to balance his banked desire for Hudson with the fact that Hudson broke things off with Kian and the uncertainty of whether Hudson could truly want him back.
These two themes feel so strongly represented on page. I felt like so many exchanges and events were vehicles to highlight Kian’s class-awareness and how conflicted he is over his continuing and possibly one-sided attraction to Hudson. That said, I felt like there was very little progress made in squaring Kian’s relationship two these in pervading themes. For example, it was clear the big question in the book is whether or not Kian and Hudson can make another go of it. But I never felt like I really understood why on earth Kian was interested in getting back together with Hudson and vice versa. The physical chemistry is off the charts, but it was really hard to tell when Hudson was just dropping compliments and cash to ensure he saves face with his parents. Similarly, Kian often came across as sort of guarded or cavalier about sharing so much time and space with the man who broke his heart. The initial break up seems to have devastated Kian, but all that happened off page. It felt pretty incredible that Kian was willing to go along with so much for the shot at using Hudson’s connections to get a foot in the journalism door. I suppose there was a late-in-the-game scene where Hudson literally fights for Kian’s honor, but that good will evaporates in the wake of an even-later-in-the-game drama bomb.
As far as the two-worlds narrative, well, it’s clear that Kian doesn’t really feel at home either in Boston (token Black) or Georgia (token middle-class). But it’s not clear that he ever finds a place where he does feel like he belongs. Unless it was supposed to be at Hudson’s side…but then that whole idea doesn’t work for me given how I viewed the dynamic between Kian and Hudson’s on-page interactions.
The writing style has a sort of stream of consciousness style quality. The extra details gave Kian a strong, distinct voice. I thought this provided a lot of extra emotional connection to him as he narrates his own story. But sometimes, it skirted the line of breaking the fourth wall for me. Also, at times all the attention to detail kind of made the story drag a little bit. The references to very specific cultural markers like blockbuster movies and contemporary slang also felt superfluous. I feel like that level of detail in plain old contemporary work needlessly assigns a specific era to a story.
Overall, I think I’m So (Not) Over You is a gently meandering story that focuses on Kian’s jumbled feelings about his ex/not-ex. He’s clearly still a sucker for Hudson and Hudson still clearly wants to jump Kian, so there’s that. The story of Kian and Hudson really focuses on the will-they/won’t-they aspect of their relationship on many levels: will Kian help Hudson or won’t he? Will Hudson blow up when Kian points out class differences or won’t he? Will they sleep together or won’t they? Will they fall in love or won’t they? If that’s your jam, then you’ll probably tear through this book.