I Owe You One Book Review

Anyone who has read romance novels will know how predictable they can get. Some like the familiarity, while others want something more atypical. For me, it depends if I’m reading it before going to bed, or if I’m doing that during the daytime. I bring all of this up because I read I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella recently, and reviews were mixed for reasons including the one mentioned above. What do I think? Despite its predictable nature, I liked it, for it’s a good read before going to bed.

I Owe You One is about a woman with a complicated family, a handsome guy, and an IOU that changes everything. Fixie Farr likes to fix things. That’s her nature, even if it means picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own when running the family housewares store. Then one day at a coffee shop, a handsome stranger asks her to watch his laptop. Not only does she agree, but she also saves it from a certain disaster. It turns out that the stranger – Sebastian – is an investment manager. He scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. Fixie would never claim that. Would she? And then, her childhood crush Ryan comes back into her life, and she tries to convince Sebastian to give him a job. As a result, Fixie and Sebastian pass a series of IOUs to each other. It gets to the point where she is torn between her family and the life she wants to live. Will she take a stand and grab the life and love she really wants?

Before going into this novel, the only thing that I knew was that the author Sophie Kinsella had written Confessions of a Shopaholic. I never read that book, but from what I’ve read, I get the feeling that she likes to write quirky female protagonists with a “fatal” flaw and that they experience character growth. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but some readers have issues with how formulaic her stories can be. Even Goodreads user KP outlines the steps to what goes in Kinsella’s novels. I personally didn’t care because these romance books are pretty predictable already. Even One Day in December had some cliched aspects in it. It really depends on one’s tolerance of the book’s lightness and foreseeable nature. 

I liked Fixie and her OCD-like tendency to fix everything in sight even though she’s a hot mess. I wanted her to think of herself more, especially when other people like her self-centered siblings Jake and Nicole walk all over her. It feels like a Cinderella story minus royalty. Her siblings are like the stepsisters but redeemable, Uncle Ned is the stepmother, Ryan – Fixie’s childhood crush – is like the douchebag version of the Prince, and Sebastian is like the fairy Godmother who happens to be the real Prince Charming in disguise. In addition, the most obvious reference is that both main characters are known by their “nicknames” and are doormats. But then again, one can say that a lot of romance and chick-lit are basically Cinderella tales. 

Going back to the predictability side of things, there were plenty of instances, in which I had to roll my eyes. I swear that in almost every scene up until Fixie and Sebastian get together, there’s always something that goes wrong due to Fixie’s fix-it like tendencies or something else. I get that it’s pretty common in rom-com books, but I wanted it to have a balance of things going right and things going wrong.

At the same time, when things started to go right for Fixie, I really felt for her. The moments where she stood up to her family had me cheering for her. When she showed off her skating at the local rink, I was rooting for her. And, when she and Sebastian get together at the end (did you think I was not going to spoil it for you?), it was all worth it!

Reading it before going to bed allowed me to enjoy what was happening on every page instead of nitpicking at certain details. That helped me to overanalyze it less. If I read it during the daytime, I would have been more critical of the novel.

All in all, I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella is an enjoyable book for those like all the familiarity that romance novels, especially a Kinsella one, bring. Fixie is a flawed, yet quirky character that one could either get irritated at, or root for. This really depends on one’s tolerance for the book’s predictable nature. As stated earlier, it’s best to read the book before getting some shut eye. In addition to those who enjoy the genre’s cliched nature, I would also recommend it to those who like reading about female protagonists learning to live life the way they want to and to stand up for themselves. I owe you one review of this book, and now, you owe me a read…nah, I’m just kidding.

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Published by emilymalek

I work at a public library southeast Michigan, and I facilitate two book clubs there. I also hold a Bachelor's degree in History and Theatre from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI; a Master's degree in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI; and a Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration also from Wayne. In my downtime, I love hanging out with friends, play trivia and crossword puzzles, listening to music (like classic rock and K-pop), and watching shows like "Monty Python's Flying Circus"!

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