A huge thank-you to Ellingstar Media for this review copy of No Experience Required by Janet Quin-Harkin.
If you’re like me, hearing “1989” makes you think of Taylor Swift – but it’s also the year No Experience Required takes place.
It’s crazy to me that this is considered “historical fiction” now because 1989 was only a few years before I was born! However, as I read No Experience Required, I definitely realized how dated it was. This beachy, teen drama gives off some OC vibes and is a super quick and easy read.
I can’t say it was my favorite book of all time, but I did find it interesting to pick up a book that was originally published in the ’80s and then re-released in the ’00s. I don’t usually reach for books that are older than me (nope, not even a fan of classics), so this was a leap outside of my reading comfort zone!
This book is great for those who want a journey to a beachside dive bar in the 80’s, enjoy lots of teen angst, and need an escape into a book that requires little-to-no concentration.
Book Review: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon // Book Review: People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry // Book Review: A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause
These are my honest thoughts on No Experience Required by Janet Quin-Harkin.
It’s 1989. Life’s easy for DEBORAH LESLEY: she’s up-market, drives her own flash car to school, and looks pretty good too. She’s never had a job, either; but now her parents have split up, and she needs the money.
JOE GARBARINI is cool. He likes motorbikes, girls, and fun. He doesn’t have time for much — he’s running Heartbreak Café when he’s not at school.
The Heartbreak Café is a noisy hangout on the north Californian coast. Joe’s worked there for years, and knows what it takes. He’s sure Debbie won’t last a month — but Debbie’s determined to put up with his wisecracks and prove him wrong.
Debbie, Joe and the rest of the gang are all at the Heartbreak Café. Meet them in this sparkling series from bestselling author Janet Quin-Harkin. (Goodreads Synopsis)
“…I was halfway down the canyon before I noticed I had missed my turning and was heading towards destiny in the form of the Heartbreak Café.”No Experience Required
This book had a lot of potential to be a cute and clever contemporary romance, but unfortunately, for me, it fell really flat. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that it was originally published in a different era, and therefore, a lot of the themes were super problematic.
What I liked:
The setting! I wish I could spend every day in a beachside diner, eating burgers with the locals. It sounded like a great place to hang out with friends, relax with a book (or a comic book like Howard) by yourself, or even go out on a date.
The “regulars” at the café. Ashley cracked me up with her ridiculous diet tips. Howard was always ready to watch another wacky science fiction flick. Even Mr. Garbarini made me smile with his willingness to see Deborah succeed – even at the annoyance of his grandson.
What I disliked:
Deborah. She was awful. Stuck-up, spoiled, and with the mindset that she always has to prove everyone else wrong (whether that’s her mom, her boyfriend, Joe, etc.). She was the most unlikeable main character I think I’ve ever read.
All of Deborah’s friends. They were so entitled and it bothers me that Deborah never once put them in their place.
The “stereotypes.” OH MY GOSH this was the biggest nuisance for me. Again, potentially just when it was written, but it bothered me so much that Joe was “the bad boy” because he rode a motorcycle and he was “secretly smart” because he had a copy of Dickens in his leather jacket. GAG. And Howard was a nerd, we get it, but not all nerds are that uncomfortably awkward and loud about their nerdiness? And even the way they made assumptions about Deborah because she had money. It would just not fly at ALL to treat someone that way just because they have a nice car. Truly, all of that irked me to no end.
The parental figures – or lack thereof. Deborah’s mom is selfish and an utter letdown as a mom. That doesn’t excuse the way Deborah speaks to her, but seriously? You’re just going to stop working altogether because you want to go to school? I understand wanting freedom after a divorce, but that was just totally unrealistic. Meanwhile, Deborah’s free spirit father is off hooking up with younger women and providing zero support. The dynamics were ALL off. Maybe it was supposed to show how Deborah had to learn how to handle life herself? But she does a terrible job at it and then has to deal with her flaky family.
Overall, I found that this book just didn’t settle right with me and I don’t plan to read the rest. I wish it was as cute as it had sounded like it would be, but oof. It was a bit of a hot mess. I gave this book two stars.
Well, I feel very old now – how on earth can the 1980s be deemed historical?! TBH this isn’t the kind of book I’d pick up and based on your refreshingly honest review I don’t think I would now either – but thank you, it was a fab review!
I think I’ll skip this one after reading your review! The MC sounds awful. That’s too bad.
I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy this book as much as you thought. I feel like those kinds of books are always difficult to get through. Thanks for your honest thoughts on it! Xx.
The setting sounds lovely, and I like the idea of the OC vibes! It’s a shame it didn’t work out though, unlikeable characters can totally make a break a story. Hope your next read is better!
Anika | chaptersofmay.com
That’s a shame that this book didn’t live up to expectations, I hope you enjoy the next book you plan on reading! x
Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk
Historical fiction…heh. This makes me feel old…
I’m sorry the book didn’t turn out as you hoped! I also agree that the description sounds like it would be a fun read. Wow! The things you listed under dislikes are exactly things in books that I try to stay away from. This is why I love reviews and blog hopping! Super informative!
It does make me wonder about 80s movies that I love but now would make me second guess things…hmm
I appreciated the review!
I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one much! It sounds like it could’ve been a really cute book if it had been pulled off a little better.
This is such a great review. Its a shame that this book didn’t do it for you but I think sometimes its difficult when you can’t fully gel with the characters.
El oh el. If you’re like me, you lived through 1989 (and the horrid hairstyles, lol!). I would love to read this b/c it’s set during my high school days. It sounds like a fun read!!
This book sounds like such an interesting premise. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy it a whole lot and I wonder if it has anything to do with when it was written (or not). Thanks for sharing your thoughts on a book that isn’t one that is always done!
I love reading books during specific time periods so this sounds fun! But so sad it didn’t work out for you. Thanks or sharing your honest thoughts!
I’ve not heard of this book before but this sounds pretty good! I love how honest you are and that you’ve listed what you liked and disliked x
I’m adding this book to my reading list – even if I do feel slightly put out by the fact that 1989 is historical fiction!
From the settings and the OC vibes, I was expecting a lot, a shame for the characters and stereotypes! Hope your next read is much better and thanks for your honest review x
I was born I in mid-80’s so now I’m definitely feeling old 😛 It’s a shame this book didn’t live up to expectation, the setting does sound fun as does the storyline. I get turned off by stereotypical characters as well. Thanks for sharing!
Im sorry it wasn’t as good as you’d hoped. I hate when that happens!
Yep, it definitely sounds like I would have the exact same opinions on this book! Lol Especially the played-out “bad boy” stereotype and super privileged friends. That would rub me the wrong way too!
This book sounds like the escapism I need – except for the protagonist. There’s nothing worse than a terrible main character!
Oh no, what a shame that this didn’t work out the way you wanted it to. Some books date well, and others not so much and sounds like this might fall into the latter category. Great review though!
Oo, I feel the same way with stereotypical characters! It certainly sounds like it could have potential, the beach setting seems really cute. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one. Beautiful pics! x