Book Talk: On "Never Saw You Coming" by Erin Hahn | September 2021
When I finished Erin Hahn's More Than Maybe in the summer of 2020, I immediately rushed to write a review that could capture all the beautiful feelings I'd experienced while reading the book. I didn't think any of her other contemporaries could compare. The review starts, "I have tears in my eyes and a smile on my face as I'm writing this review" and ends "I won't be over this one for a while."
And it was true. I carried that book in my heart for quite a while. So when I found out that Hahn's next YA romance was going to be about Vada's best friend, Meg, coming to terms with issues of faith, God, the church and all the baggage that institution carries with it, I knew I had to read Never Saw You Coming.
The book was both an easy and a hard read. Personally — I grew up in an evangelical Christian faith-filled household, believing that what the church said was good would be good and what the church told me was bad would be bad. I bought everything I was fed.
It wasn't until leaving my bubble and trekking across the country to New York, attending a year of classes at NYU, and getting to know vastly different perspectives that my own opinions started to change. And now? Now I believe in and love God and I don't know how I feel about the church.
Along the way, many of my life's goals changed — I stopped wanting to write exclusively Christian fiction, then I stopped including faith in my books at all. I didn't think there was a way to write mainstream young adult fiction that discussed faith. Because my goal is not to indoctrinate, and to be frank I didn't really understand how to speak of my faith without trying to proselytize.
I was incredibly intrigued by Never Saw You Coming because I knew the main character, Meg, was a "church girl," and I had seen tweets Hahn shared about the relationship her MC would have to the church in the book.
In Never Saw You Coming, Meg receives some stunning news from her parents and it sends her reeling — shaking not just her belief in them, but in the entire foundations of her faith. And it enrages her.
Meanwhile, Micah is dealing with being the son of a disgraced pastor and has all sorts of anger of his own.
The two crash together in a beautiful romance that had me feeling all the swoony feels, and together they help each other (and those in their communities) come to terms with what they're struggling with.
One thing that took me aback in this book was the open way in which Hahn shared about her own, and her characters', faith. See, I had been under the impression that if you're writing fiction that doesn't fall into the "Christian fiction" category, you have to keep faith out of it. Or you can mention it, but you surely can't go deep. Never Saw You Coming blows that completely out of the water, with Meg and Micah having long, deep conversations about what they believe, what enrages them, what moves them. In some instances, Meg talks to other young girls about the Bible and its commands.
In some ways this made me uncomfortable. In others, it made me happy to see faith conversations in books, and I'd love to see more books, more faiths, represented in this way. Faith is a crucial part of so many teens' lives, whether they're Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or any myriad other religion — and they should be able to read about others having questions and getting answers that might help them.
Another aspect of the book I loved was, of course, the romance. As I journaled after every reading session, I wrote that the banter was delightful, the way Hahn described what it's like when your crush is first flowering — it made me want to have a new crush just so I could go back to those heady, dizzying first days of infatuation!
The book ends with a super dramatic flourish I never expected, but one that satisfied me as it tied up many loose ends.
Ultimately, this is a book I loved and will likely read again once I have my physical copy.
Never Saw You Coming is out Sept. 7, 2021, and you can pre-order it now!