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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

I'd Really Love to See You Tonight

Hello Strange by Katherine Center

In which of heroine could be the next Picasso

Stars: 4.5/5

This was my first romance that I received through NetGalley and I can’t tell you how excited it made me! First, I am new to the whole bookstagram thing, so being able to get an ARC is very thrilling but to get a KATHERINE CENTER ARC was even better. I remember picking up Things You Save In a Fire and burning through it (bad pun there). Center is definitely one of those authors that I will pick up the book as soon as it is out.

So Hello Stranger has a twist I’ve never read in a book: after brain surgery, our heroine, Sadie, develops face blindness (not the technical term, you can look it up, I struggle with spelling original so I am not going to try the medical term). This is a problem because Sadie is a portrait painter and she has just won entrance into a prestigious competition and must enter a new portrait within a number of weeks - how can she paint what she can’t see?

The novel has a whole host of great characters, the zany best friend, the adorable senior dog, the substitute family, the evil stepmother and stepsister, and the distant dad. And of course, the love interests, in this case one that Sadie wants to fall for, Dr. Oliver Addison, and the one she is reluctantly falling for, her neighbor, Joe. And since this is a story about a woman who has lost her ability to see faces clearly, obviously she can’t see what is right in front of her.

I loved the romance aspect of the book, obviously, and the growth of the relationship between Joe and Sadie is adorable. I laughed out loud a number of times - there is a scene in which Sadie is roller skating on her roof that you just know will end in disaster (an aside, I just went roller skating again for the first time in like twenty years and I shared Sadie’s awe at rediscovering this). There is a lot of mistaken identity, and Sadie and Joe’s first interaction is quite clever. I wasn’t sure how Center was going to rehabilitate Joe after that, but the resolution is entertaining.

I think where Center shines the most in this book is her treatment of Sadie’s struggle with face blindness. At one point Sadie and Sue are talking and Sadie says she can’t watch TV anymore because she can’t tell the characters apart and it shocks Sue, who remarks “wow…what a nightmare.” That moment really drove the issue home and as I was reading the book, all I could think was how do you deal with losing the one thing that helps you navigate the world? Center created an indomitable heroine, with Sadie’s admirable determination to just keep going, to paint, to enter this contest, to go out in the world, even to date the lovely Dr. Addison. The reader just can’t help cheering for her.

At times, maybe Center piles on a bit to poor Sadie (the evil stepsister is pure psycho) and maybe one less trauma would have been ok. Of course a lot of the drama could have been solved if Sadie just told people what she was experiencing but then, where is the fun in that?

Hello Stranger is coming out in July and it will be the perfect summer read.

[Spoiler] Katherine Center posted a picture of John Krasinski the other day and was like, this is our hero and OMG he is - Jim from The Office is Joe and Jack from Jack Ryan is Dr. Oliver Addison. I'm ready for him to star in the Netflix original of this book.


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