REVIEW: Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

In brief: Daniel spots Nadia on the Tube most mornings. Instead of talking to her, he puts a message in the ‘Missed Connections’ section of the paper. Then, they start writing to each other – but will they ever meet?

The good: Great idea for a novel.

The not-so-good: Quite clunky, particularly initially.

Why I chose it: Sounded like fun.

Year: 2019

Pages: 375

Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins)

Setting: London

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Our Stop is a book that ticks a lot of boxes for a sound summer read in my opinion – original idea, missed opportunities, hilarious moments and a final meet cute. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the promise for me. I found it quite difficult to read at times. The last third of the novel is by far the best, but the first two thirds are bogged down in unnecessary detail and some subplots that don’t really serve any purpose towards the main plot.

Our Stop is a great idea for a book. A man sees a woman he’d like to chat with (and maybe more) but Daniel is too shy to make a move. So after a lot of deliberation, he puts a message in the ‘Missed Connections’ section of a newspaper (devoted to those who have seen somebody on public transport and would like to make a connection). It sounds kind of creepy, but there is also an element of mystery to it. (I confess to reading these messages in the now defunct mX newspaper). Nadia (aka Coffee Spill Girl) is the person that Daniel is trying to contact. She has no idea who he is, but decides to write back via the newspaper. Their wannabe romance becomes a thing amongst readers of the newspaper, but is plagued by missed chances and other opportunities. Will they ever meet?

Yes, it’s a great idea. But in this case, it got kind of boring in places. I found out that there are only so many times that fate can send the almost couple off in different directions before it gets repetitive. Plus the characters weren’t for me the kind of people I’d be happy to read about doing anything. Let’s start with Daniel. Daniel is painted as a good guy- he’s in touch with his feelings, he looks after his mum at all costs and he is pretty smart. The story is also at pains to describe him as woke – he breaks up a potential non-consensual night between his flatmate and girlfriend. That’s a great thing to do, but this is also a guy who effectively watches a woman on the Tube each day and doesn’t make himself known. He also eavesdrops on Nadia’s conversation and goes to the place where he saw her have lunch once. A bit creepy in my opinion…

Nadia is a bit easier to read, but she too is flawed. She works in STEM, as do some of her friends (great). But she’s quite dismissive of her work and seems to spend a lot of the time running late, with coffee spills on her clothes. She is also haunted by a bad breakup, but this is the one place where the story doesn’t go into a lot of detail. She also strings along a new boyfriend – she’s not that into him, but he’s so nice! Many of the other characters seem to tick off boxes for the politically correct and incorrect – the man who really is caring and considerate of others, the same sex friends who fall for each other, the sexist bro dude etc. Overall, it just seemed to be too much to cram into one novel. There are also a lot of unnecessary details in the book that don’t really need to be in there, such as the mention of Daniel’s university friend’s mother and what she did once. The reader barely sees the friend in the novel, let alone his mother! It’s commendable that they all have a detailed backstory, but I don’t believe it needed to be in the final text. A stronger edit would have made this book tighter and more focused on the core story. But unfortunately, it was just too much detail and plodding for me. If you love the characters in this novel, you might love all the details too.

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