I really wanted to love this book, but I can tell you off the bat that I didn’t. I didn’t hate it either, but it wasn’t… what I was expecting. The title is sort of misleading, in all honesty. But I’ll get into it, I’ll get into it. I’m getting ahead of myself here!
In The Aussie Next Door, Angie Donovan is living in a small Australian town, and she’s just been told that her visa wasn’t renewed. She’s going to have to go back to the US unless she gets married to an Australian citizen. Angie would love to fall in love, but she hasn’t met a lot of eligible bachelors in the small town, and she refuses to get married just for the citizenship. She wants to be in love. Not to mention her gorgeous and awkward landlord that she sees on a daily basis who wants nothing to do with her. But she can’t go back to the States. She’s infamous for all the wrong reasons there, and she doesn’t want to go back.
Jace Walters is a comic book artist who has always craved peace and quiet. He’s the middle child in a family of seven, and he values his solitude over everything else. Especially after his fiance left him at the alter several years earlier. Love? Absolutely not, not for Jace. Except his tenant is cute, and he can’t stop thinking about her. She’s American, and she talks way too much. And all of a sudden she’s trying to get married? Yikes. No thanks, not for Jace.
Except maybe they’ve both been lying to themselves…
3 Things I Loved
- The quirky town. The town really stole the show in this book. It’s on the ocean and is small enough that everyone knows each other, which makes for some very funny scenes.
- Jace. Oh, Jace, what a sweet guy. I have a lot to say about Jace and how he was represented by this book in the next section, but I really did love him as a character and feel like he deserves the world.
- Angie. She was weird and flawed, but I really liked her, actually. She wanted to be better for Jace, and that’s admirable and fun to see in writing.
Before I get into it, I want to say the usual – this was super white and super heteronormative. I don’t believe that Australia is less diverse than the US (correct me if I’m wrong) so there’s no reason for there to be no diversity anywhere in this book. But that’s just one of my usual frustrations.
Also, okay, so the title, The Aussie Next Door, makes it sound like it’s a defining feature of the neighbor, right? SHE’S IN AUSTRALIA. Literally all of her neighbors are probably Aussies. So like… what? What is that title? It’s so misleading. I had no idea the book took place IN Australia until I started reading it.
This next one isn’t just the usual stuff.
So Jace is on the autism spectrum in the book. It’s not something you maybe see very often, especially in romance, and when I realized it, all I wanted was for it to be done well.
I’m not on the spectrum and I’m not an expert, but I know enough to know that being autistic is not a flaw. It’s not something that’s wrong with that person. It’s an example of neurodiversity; it’s a way that someone might be equal but different. And it’s treated as if it’s a great flaw in Jace’s ability to have relationships with other people. Which I hated! Protect Jace at all costs! Not only that, but the way that Jace’s autism is described sounded like introvertedness to me. He doesn’t like crowds, he doesn’t like people, he enjoys routine, he needs his space. Dude, you just described me… and my dog, for that matter. That doesn’t mean he’s autistic. I just felt like the author didn’t do it justice. Half the story was from Jace’s perspective, so there was more that she could have done and somewhere along the line, she didn’t.
What I’m saying is – Jace’s character wasn’t represented properly. If a bad representation of autism may trigger you in any way, avoid this one.
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good!
- Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!
This was an easy read, but there was some problematic autism spectrum rep, and it wasn’t even close to diverse. With all of that put together, I’m giving The Aussie Next Door a YELLOW rating. I loved Jace and Angie as characters, but the book was kind of yikes.