Accidental pregnancy isn’t a trope everyone gravitates toward or is willing to read. Sometimes, neither are stories that even mention cancer or death. And as a story dealing with both, I was hesitant to pick up Out On a Limb by Hannah Bonam-Young, even when I could tell it would be a must-read, incredibly special story. But that’s the thing about the romance genre—the guarantee of a happy ending promises us that everything will be worth it in the end. If you’re hesitant for the very same reasons, give yourself grace, read the author’s content warnings as well as her beautifully transparent note, and dive into the story when you’re ready. Because, really and truly, there are very few words to describe the abundance of heart sprinkled into every page.
Out On a Limb by Hannah Bonam-Young is a wondrous array of light in the romance community—a novel that belongs on every bestseller list for all the sentiments it captures while telling a story of acceptance we don’t often see in the community (or in any form of media for that matter). It follows two main characters with disabilities and gorgeously allows them to understand that despite what society tells them, despite what they might think of themselves, they deserve every brilliant, lasting happiness imaginable. Despite the progress we’ve made in various ways to make spaces more inclusive and welcoming, large parts of the world are still far too cruel and unkind. Yet it’s stories like this that will become someone’s entire heart—the very safe place they turn to when the world outside feels less warm.
Bonam-Young is a witty, downright hilarious author whose books have always been joyously cathartic. You pick up something, and you know that your heart will squeeze multiple times throughout while pieces of you will be seen in a way that’s rare with media. It’s not hard to say that Out On a Limb is her best book to date, but objectively, in every way, it is one of the best romance novels ever written. The story is breathtaking; the execution is flawless; the pacing is addictively well done; the heart is indescribable; the characterizations are compelling; the romance is, in every way, delightfully memorable. The longing—the longing is something else entirely. The kindness and the gentleness cobbled with unyielding strength in both main characters is so profoundly inspiring.
Bo Durand and Winnifred (Win) McNulty are the type of romance-genre couple people will remember for years and years to come.
I know that people often read romance novels for an escape. We don’t always want to read about challenging scenarios because life is already hard, but the balance in Out On a Limb by Hannah Bonam-Young is worth the moments that might feel a little tough to read. At the same time, the story is about found families and what it means to find people in this world who’ll love you with every fiber of their being through every obstacle. It’s a story about people who’ve experienced profound loneliness ending up with individuals who’ll show up for them every single day. It’s a simple thing, but it’s everything—it’s a lifeline, in more ways than one, to know that people in this world will run if you ask them, too. And not many people in the world have that in their lives.
Bonam-Young also does something thoughtful and moving when she challenges this idea of imagining the worst-case scenario. You imagine it; you look ahead toward what you could do, but you choose to follow your heart in spite of what could arise. Because that’s what the human experience is all about, ultimately. It’s about taking chances even when we’re afraid and opening up our hearts when they’ve been broken before. It’s about choosing to trust in people when they show us who they are, and how Bo and Win trust each other is utterly enamoring. There’s no third-act breakup here, only happy tears and gorgeously tender moments that will leave you breathless in the best way.
There’s so much I want to say about Out On a Limb—so many parts I have highlighted that deserve pages and pages of excavation. But in the effort to keep this relatively spoiler-free, I’ll stick to what the book accomplishes by telling a story that orbits around love and healing and so much light. It’s a transcendent story that thoughtfully highlights the dynamic, captivating type of love people deserve to receive while ensuring that anyone with a visible or hidden disability understands that they are more than enough in every way.
Out On a Limb by Hannah Bonam-Young is now available for purchase with a new cover/edition coming soon.