Book Review: Soft on Soft by Em Ali

Status: Finished Reading (6 November 2018)

Edition: Amazon Kindle

Rating: ★★★★★

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Image Source: Goodreads

I don’t usually read soft and fluffy contemporary books. My foray into the world of tooth-rotting fluff is usually limited to the realm of fanfiction where it’s handed to me in the slice-of-life format instead of reading an entire book about it. But if ever there was going to be a book to make me change my mind, it’s this one.

For one, it’s fluff but it’s entirely realistic fluff. Maybe that’s why I loved it so much and that’s why it made me feel all mushy inside. There’s an element of plausibility embedded into the story that is sometimes hard to find in fluff because you tell yourself, No way is this real. I mean it’s cute but…yeah nobody lives like this in the real world. But with Soft on Soft, for the first time I was asking myself, Hey…maybe we can all have this someday, yeah?

Let me just say June and Selena are easily some of my favourite contemporary characters (ever!) as is their relationship. I fully trusted Ali to handle their story with sensitivity and forethought, and that’s exactly what I got.

Something I think is vital to understand about this book and what really made me love it so much: June and Selena are very real (as are the people around them). That means they have real problems. The fluff doesn’t in any way detract from how the world around them can be and, equally importantly, how the world inside them can be. They present an interesting narrative of how their view of the world is shaped when they’ve built a comfortable, safe and trusting environment around themselves with people who share similar beliefs and ideas – yet they have to navigate a world that may necessarily not.

In addition, I think June’s anxiety was handled really well. As someone who has major anxiety issues, I felt like I could relate to June a lot without being extremely overwhelmed by the narrative (as can happen sometimes with realistic fiction or certain types of prose).

That being said though – even though their problems and worries are brought into focus at certain points, they are not the focal point of the book. Soft on Soft is neither a sob tragedy fest that the characters are put through, but neither is it so shiny and fluffy that it borders on ignorant. It’s the perfect mix – a promise, a sliver of hope even – of achieving happiness, positivity, and a healthy relationship in the very world we live in.

Also, as a side note, I wanted to add that I loved how this was a contemporary that’s actually, well, contemporary. I think most of us who’ve grown up reading books in the last two decades have had to deal with authors who think they’ve done something exceptional by inserting a Harry Potter, Star Trek or Lord of the Rings reference into their books or movies. While it’s not inaccurate – those are references that are relevant to all of us and made us smile – they’ve gotten a little tired over the years. So, it was a pleasant and refreshing surprise to see mentions of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Voltron and Avatar. (I sure do wonder what June and Selena felt about The Legend of Korra). It was nice to references relevant to this decade.

Although a short read, I read this book super slow and savoured every page of it like a long-awaited treat. Thank you for writing this, Em. I am so glad to have come to know June and Selena, and I can’t wait to see what else the author has to offer in the future.

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