The Look of Love by Sarah Jio (Or, How Pop Culture Ruined My Life)

December 8, 2014 Chick Lit, Flowers, Romance 17

Hello Bookworms!

I think that pop culture may have ruined my life. I may have gone into Sarah Jio’s new novel, The Look of Love, tainted, simply because certain associations it aroused in my psyche…My word, I’m digressing before I’ve even started. *Before further tangents take wing, I should inform you that I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.This in no way hampers the honesty of the following review, as you will no doubt notice in short order.*

29 year old Jane Williams is a Seattle florist (yay flowers!) She’s lived her whole life with what she believes to be a neurological condition that causes her vision to blur at unpredictable moments. One Christmas she receives a greeting card telling her that this condition is actually a rare gift that allows her to *see* love. Unfortunately, the “gift” comes with strings, and if Jane can’t identify the six different types of love before her 30th birthday, she will have to live without romantic love in her life FOREVER.


I’ve read and enjoyed Sarah Jio novels before, but, to be blunt, this one just did not work for me. I have to give Jio credit though, this is the first of her novels I’ve read that breaks from the dual narrative formula, so high five for branching out. Unfortunately, the book and I had some issues, most of which I blame on popular culture and my ravenous absorption of it…

First, the song “The Look of Love” evokes creepy for me, not romance. There’s a scene in Austin Powers where the song plays, and I can’t help but associate it with skeezy 60s men of mystery. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Austin Powers movies (though maybe I shouldn’t admit that my sense of humor is that of a 12-year-old boy.) It’s just that I can’t think of that song as in any way romantic, so I went in with a pre-conceived expectation of cheesiness.

Second, did any of y’all watch That’s So Raven on the Disney Channel? I was WAY too old to be watching it when it was on, but I used to binge watch Disney shows to combat hangovers in college. No real rationale behind this, it just was a thing my roommate and I did. In any case, the title character Raven was psychic, and every time she’d have a vision, they’d do a weird closeup on her eye and it would be all melodramatic and crazy-like. Every time Jane’s vision went blurry, I heard the That’s So Raven theme song play in my head.


Thank you, internet, for animated gifs.

Finally, I am a big cynical grump. I have a problem with insta-love. I simply cannot buy into the idea that someone could walk into my kitchen one day and I’d instantly fall for them. The first time I saw my future husband, I said to my companions once he left the room (direct quote here) “Is it just me, or is that one good-looking lab monitor?” (Yes, my husband was an audio-visual lab monitor. We are the dorkiest couple EVER!) So, I thought he was hot, sure, but even my sappy 19 year old self didn’t buy love at first sight. There were several instances of love at first sight in this book, most of which popped up despite the characters having other romantic entanglements and responsibilities (spouses, children, the odd cat.)

Love can certainly be a messy business, and I appreciated that even thought Jio had a lot of insta-love going on it wasn’t always an easy road to happily ever after. That said, I felt like she was trying to juggle SO MANY tales of love that I found it difficult to connect to any one of them in a meaningful way. It’s pretty clear that my personal associations and experiences made this book a no-go for me, but hopeless romantics who loved the movie Valentine’s Day might just discover a new favorite in The Look of Love.

 Let’s chat, Bookworms! Have your personal associations with pop culture ever ruined a book for you?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

17 Responses to “The Look of Love by Sarah Jio (Or, How Pop Culture Ruined My Life)”

  1. Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf

    The summary alone makes me think this book wouldn’t be something I’d enjoy. Just not my cup of tea. I’m a cynical grump, too! But yessssss on the That’s So Raven thing! LOL Awesome gif, too.

  2. Leah

    I’m thinking Jio just isn’t the author for me. I had a world of problems with Goodnight June (which killed me – I had SUCH high hopes for that book!), so when I was contacted about reviewing this one I almost – almost – declined.

    Instead I decided to give Jio a second chance. While I did like this one more than Goodnight June, I still had a number of issues (especially with the doctor). I know Jio has a huge following and I’m positive they’ll love this one, but it’s time to call it quits for me.

  3. Megan M.

    Haha! My husband and I talk about that a lot. It was just luck that we turned out to be perfectly compatible – when we met it was all about how good-looking we were. I believe in insta-lust.

    I remember reading a romance where one of the characters got a tattoo and I was like, “That’s the tattoo that Victoria Beckham has.” It didn’t really “ruin” it for me, it just made it seem like a “stolen” idea. It gave me a different feeling than when you read a story that was clearly inspired by a real-life story, like “Room” and the Jaycee Dugard story.

    • Words For Worms

      LOL! I love this. Insta-lust is important-ish. I mean, you’ve got to be attracted to each other and all. It’s just that there’s no amount of hot that could walk into my kitchen and make me think I should leave my husband. Though, in fairness, Jamie Fraser never has walked into my kitchen, sooo… (Also, I’m not sure if I love the fact that you know Posh’s tattoo history or fear it. Jury’s out.)

      • Megan M.

        Haha! I love tattoos and the stories behind them, and I also love celebrity gossip, so when there were stories about whatever a celebrity’s tattoo means, I was all over it. Yeah, no amount of hot could make me leave my husband, but I told him if Angelina Jolie ever shows up looking for him, I’ll go pack his bags. (Who can compete with that? Certainly not me!)

  4. AMB

    This review is hilarious! I can see how this book might be a cute read for some people, but probably not for me. “Insta-love” drives me nuts.

    • Words For Worms

      Hahahahha! I read one Nicholas Sparks novel and just couldn’t fathom reading another. I imagine I’d have had the same experience though. Oh that Mandy Moore. She had some catchy tunes. (Though, in fairness, most of the ones I know are from Tangled :))

  5. Jancee @ Jancee Reads

    My roommate and I also binge watched Disney Channel in college. Not to combat hangovers, but we often fell asleep with the tv on, and it was too scary to wake up to Ghost Hunters in the middle of the night, so Disney it was.

    I’ve heard good things about the author, but insta-love isn’t usually my thing, so I’ll probably pass on this one.

    • Words For Worms

      Haaaaaaaa! Ghost Hunters scares me midday with the lights on, no way would I watch that at night! I used to fall asleep with the TV on, when I was too stressed to turn off my brain. Cheers was my go-to for lulling to sleep.

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