Just Like You

Riverhead. Sept. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780593191385. $27. F
Lucy is a fortyish single white mother of preteen sons who teaches English in a racially mixed north London high school and whose ex-husband has ongoing dependency problems. In the weeks leading up to Brexit, two men enter her life. Michael Marwood is an age-appropriate midlist author whose background and interests closely align with Lucy’s. Joseph is a young Black butcher shop employee whose many part-time jobs also include coaching soccer and mixing music at a trendy night spot. Not too surprisingly, Lucy has very little chemistry with Michael, but sparks fly with Joseph. What begins as a sizzling affair sustained by sex and The Sopranos evolves into a deeper relationship that soon falls under intense scrutiny by their families, Lucy’s colleagues, and Joseph’s hipster friends. All of the characters in this wonderful novel are endearing. Most of them, including Joseph’s judgmental mother and Lucy’s guileless, sports-crazy sons, are also smart and funny. A few minor characters are racist and provide some timely #BlackLivesMatter moments.
VERDICT Filled with laugh-out-loud charm, Hornby’s movie-ready follow-up to State of the Union is a hopeful balm for our unsettled postpandemic times. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/20.]

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