You, with a View by Jessica Joyce is a beautifully tender and picturesque debut novel. It’s wholesome and heartwarming where it needs to be and brimming with hilariously enthralling and steamy banter from start to finish. For a rivals-to-lovers story, Joyce’s novel is up there with some of the greats. Few manage to do an exceptional job with the trope, and readers can now safely count the author as one of them.
Above all else, You, with a View by Jessica Joyce is an exploration of truths, heart, and the countless ways human beings grieve. It’s a story that takes time to unveil what’s vital, allowing the characters to take a front seat (literally and physically) in the narrative that’s reflective of life and experiences.
Noelle Shepard and Theo Spencer’s story is a gorgeous exhibition of what it means to find someone in life whose quips challenge your own. In more ways than one, the rivals-to-lovers trope fumbles because it seldom authentically showcases what the couple brings to each other and takes away. It needs to be a paradigm of give and take in equal measures. Instead, it often becomes dull and tiring far too quickly, but in You, with a View by Jessica Joyce, their banter is surprisingly refreshing—how Noelle and Theo (Teddy) play off one another bursts through the page and with each new detail that comes to the surface, it feels like a lovely balm that heals.
That said, the use of secrets as a thematic presence throughout the novel makes You, with a View so special. There’s something enticing with every page turn because the idea of having yet another revelation is heart-squeezing. There’s a poignancy in Noelle uncovering parts of her grandmother to feel closer to her. There’s immense depth in Theo’s closeness to his grandfather and the intimacy that transfers to both Noelle and Theo with every puzzle piece. Divine interventions, grief, and the explorations of afterlives as well as how people choose to grieve, are achingly transparent details, no matter how or what a reader believes.
It’s easy to find comfort in Noelle’s conversations with her grandmother and the belief that she’s working to help her. It’s easy to appreciate what the story wants to show with different grieving processes and how learning about others helps humans work through their own darkness. Secrets and grief intermingle poignantly to bring Noelle and Theo together while indirectly giving Paul and Kathleen another chance to celebrate their love. She might not be there in person, but as it happens with Mrs. Nash’s Ashes by Sarah Adler, celebrating love through conversations allows it a chance to breathe again—to shine and exist in a space where it could continue to remain. (This is also to say that for those who love You, with a View by Jessica Joyce, Mrs. Nash’s Ashes is another brilliant 2023 novel to read.)
The best stories are the ones that feel personal—the ones that reflect something profound and moving for which there are no words. The ones no form of AI can ever replicate. Honest and raw and so sweet. There’s prodigious beauty in this novel and something so tenderly warm as a debut. It’s a story that’s going to stay with many readers. Like Noelle’s photography, Joyce’s prose capture the beats that’d otherwise be ephemeral—the striking, warm details, like a sunrise or a sunset, that often elicits audible gasps and indescribable awe.
You, with a View by Jessica Joyce is now available wherever books are sold.
First Featured Image Credit: ©Jessica Joyce | Berkley