If every story has already been told, then writers have the supreme challenge of telling old tales in new ways. Kate Goldbeck’s debut novel, You, Again, is the perfect example of how to do this successfully. A fresh take on the iconic rom-com When Harry Met Sally, You, Again is funny, deliciously awkward and uniquely romantic.
What happens when Ari, a struggling comedian who doesn’t believe in love, meets Josh, a hopelessly romantic chef? Well, naturally, they find out they are sleeping with the same woman. While both figured that they’d never meet again, New York City has other ideas, and a series of maddeningly funny run-ins ensues. Until one day, five years after their initial meeting, when heartbreak has them both reeling and they form an unexpected friendship. But over time, the lines start to blur and Ari and Josh’s commitment to being “friends without benefits” slowly crumbles.
You, Again provides a clever and highly satisfying rendition of enemies-to-lovers, especially because it isn’t a solitary disappointing encounter that makes Ari and Josh enemies, as is often the case. Oh no. These two consistently enrage each other for years before life delivers them both humbling heartaches, allowing them to extend a bit of grace. This progression from mounting hostility to a weary truce makes their friendship and its inevitable romantic turn all the more satisfying in the end.
Josh and Ari are both flawed and funny messes who can’t seem to get out of their own way. And it’s very fun to watch them be messy. The magnetic push and pull that Goldbeck constructs between the two makes it obvious that keeping their relationship purely platonic won’t last. Ari, with her unapologetic and hilarious goading, and Josh, with his stubborn and oftentimes infuriating sense of righteousness, are perfectly crafted to first infuriate, then delight each other.
In one of the novel’s best scenes, Ari, riffing on the title of Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, asks, “Is it possible to wallow greatly? Somebody write that book.” Well, congratulations, Goldbeck: You did it. You, Again wallows in fantastic, funny and romantic fashion.