The Idea of You: A Novel - Robinne Lee

Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. For Solène, it is a reclaiming of self, as well as a rediscovery of happiness and love. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most.

 

While this book was overtly explicit in places, Soléne's tone made the book a lot of fun to read.

 

If you're not comfortable with a relationship with a significant age gap, then don't read this, simply put. I thought this book did a great job of exploring the double standard of age relations and for confronting why many of us have an inherent opposition to a specific type of relationship between two consenting adults.

 

Soléne was an intriguing character simply in the way she handles herself. On one hand, she has a really fantastic job that she's persevered at for years and has found a lot of success with, even in a challenging world, but on the other hand she seems to be constantly worrying about needing to have a man in her life and how she's too old to find a new man. I did adore her tone and realism, however. She had a lot of dry humour and deadpanning that highly amused me.

 

I had a lot of fun also seeing the person behind the face of a boy band. There's a moment where the band is nominated for a Grammy award that really struck me--Hayes was so genuine in that moment. He had a tendency to believe that he could buy whatever he wanted, also, and in a way he grew up through this book.

 

I adored the emotions of first love, of motherhood, and of being thirteen, which were all realistically and adeptly portrayed. Isabelle was a standout character; I could see myself several years ago in her and in the way she handled the relationship. She was surprisingly mature yet very real.

 

Kudos for the Kehinde Wiley reference--I enjoyed the art gallery aspect of this book a lot. And that ending, wow. There was a lot of very explicit scenes which wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I was able to read through them.

 

Though it wasn't a complete standout, I enjoyed this book for the depth of emotion the characters felt.