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The Falling in Love Montage

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Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.

But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.

Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published June 4, 2020

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About the author

Ciara Smyth

2 books1,367 followers
Ciara is starting to think that maybe she really did write that book about Asylum legislation and wonders if she is suffering from amnesia. She only remembers writing books about girls with problems and girl problems.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,054 reviews
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
September 6, 2020
This is a coming-of-age sapphic YA story that makes a lot of references to typically straight romcoms and involves the characters discussing how LGBT+ movies often end in tragedy. The main characters decide to have their own romcom montage, which is cute to see and I hope girls will be able to envision this for their own life too. The book also balances themes about family by focusing on the main character’s mom having early onset dementia and how that has affected her and her father. While I appreciate the book covering these topics, I personally couldn’t find myself emotionally invested in the story. There wasn’t much chemistry between the two characters, and the majority of the protagonist’s conflict and angst were self-inflicted. One of my pet peeves in books is miscommunication for the sake of conflict, and she unfortunately does that by lying and hiding things from the love interest throughout the entire book, which I felt was unnecessary. I’m sure that’s the point of her character, to be self-destructive and catastrophizing, but it made her more frustrating to read and a little difficult to believe that the love interest would put up with all of that.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.7k followers
August 7, 2021
this book has grumpy lesbians who steal boats, go skinny-dipping, and drown their emotions in romcom marathons
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.4k followers
May 26, 2020
Hi hello this is the first physical book that I have finished in probably a month and I am happy to say that I loved it SO very much. The writing style was fresh and fun and the main character was so sassy and relatable and this book just meant the world to me. Also it is gay as heck and WE LOVE TO SEE IT

TW: dementia
Profile Image for Lex Kent.
1,682 reviews8,876 followers
July 24, 2020
4.50 Stars. This was so good! I have been really busy reading/reviewing ARC’s lately that I have not had any time to even look at my “own to read soon” list. This book was on that list since I purchased it shortly after it came out. I’ve been dying to read this one and I was asked by a few fellow reader friends to review it. So I realized I had to take an ARC break to read this one and I’m so glad I did. This was exactly the kind of YA book that I love to read.

First, I have to say I was shocked this was a debut. I didn’t see any newbie bumps that I am used to in debuts. I mean maybe there was some but I was so immersed into the story that I sure did not notice them. I thought this book was really well written. It was filled with teenage angst and drama, broken hearts, friendship, love, it had everything a good YA should have including all the feels. I love when a good book can make you feel and yes that included tearing up too. It wasn’t a total water show for me but I went through a few tissues for sure.

The romance was super cute. Since both mains know this will only be a summer fling, they want to keep their relationship fun. They decided to do the dates and special things that happen in all the most famous rom-com movies. This was such a sweet idea and in reading this, I felt like I was watching the rom-com movie about lesbians that I never had growing up. Because the characters are in the 17-18 age range, just finished high school age, I’d say the romance was a little more PG-13 rated. There were no real explicit scenes, but the characters are intimate with each other.

While the romance makes you feel really good, there are some tough parts in this book. For one the main character Saoirse’s mother has early onset dementia. This was heartbreaking and hit a little close to home for me. When I was the same age as Saoirse, I was helping to take care of my grandmother who had dementia. I can’t ever truly explain how hard that was, even more emotionally than physically, but Smyth does a really good job of conveying some of that struggle and heartbreak.

I really liked this book. I’m still a bit shocked it was a debut. This makes me really excited for what Smyth might write in the future. She has an excellent YA voice and the book felt very authentic to me. And even being 38 years old, I still was able to understand and connect with Saoirse. I would recommend this book to any YA fans that are looking for a good sapphic romance -with some drama- that will make you feel.
Profile Image for Kevin (Irish Reader).
274 reviews3,932 followers
July 29, 2020
See, the thing about the falling in love montage, is that when it’s over, the characters have fallen in love

CW: Dementia

First off, I just want to say how much I loved the Irishness of this book. There were so many parts to it that had Irish slang words, Irish terms and just so much Irish culture and I loved it so much! The main character, Saoirse, I really connected with and loved her sarcastic nature a lot. I also connected to the love interest, Ruby, too as we both share a love for romantic comedies. One of the main aspects I loved most about this book was the theme of family. The discussions on complex family issues and how the main character was dealing with all these changes was something I really loved and think it was handled really well. As for the romance, I loved it and found it so cute. However, the book was lacking something for me and I still can’t figure out what that was, hence the 4 stars. Overall though if you’re looking for a new great F/F romcom, I would highly recommend.

I also read this during a reading vlog on my YouTube channel. You can watch that here to hear more of my thoughts on the book: https://youtu.be/R-VJYYwo_Fg
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,297 reviews27.9k followers
March 18, 2022
I listening to this on audio in one or two sittings and I really enjoyed this. It’s a sweet and beautiful YA romance between these two girls. I loved all the references to rom-coms that are typically straight and how they decided to make their own, and how usually the best part of those movies is the falling in love montage, so they created their own, with no commitments after. This was a beautiful story that really moved me, the protagonists mom has dementia and that shit just really got to me and I tested up a few times while listening to the audiobook because I can’t even imagine how difficult that must be 😭😭😭
Profile Image for Jonathan.
794 reviews4,151 followers
January 4, 2023
welcome to 202-Queer 🌈✨, the year where i only read queer books and finally have fun 🌈✨

who knew.. that romcoms... can be...good?????

the world is definitely ending, everyone save yourselves, me, liking a romcom? it's definitely end times.

this was funny. and sad. honestly YA is getting too serious nowadays. "Oh you might end up with early onset dementia like your mum so is there even any point to life anymore" - lighten up a little, i'm begging you.

i LOVED saoirse and ruby!! saoirse was just the right amount of awkward, it was adorable instead of being cringe as it usually is.
and they were so cute together!! ahhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

i was laughing. and crying. and then laughing again. and crying. the audiobook narrator had an irish accent which i love. i loved every single character in this. her friendship with oliver? amazing. 5 stars.

this queer book thing was the best decision of my life. straight people who? i don't know them.
Profile Image for tappkalina.
666 reviews414 followers
July 11, 2023
I remember a lot of things from the book, except for the falling in love montage lol. In my opinion that was the least important and memorable part.

Surprisingly, my favorite thing was the main character. (Take this seriously from someone who almost never likes them.)
She isn't that typical girl-without-personality character to make it easy to #relate. She is sarcastic, strong-willed, angry and hurt, and honestly has all the rights to send his father to hell, yet she is pretty decent with him. There were times I wanted her to be more harsh.

This girl went through a lot, and everyone was so pushy with her. No one was able to understand a fucking NO. I pretty much despised his self-centered father, didn't like the boring and pushy love interest who I think was supposed to came across as sweet, lovable and patient, but failed miserably, and I also ended up kinda hating the mother, who might have dementia and can't even remember her family anymore, but she did something in the past I just can't forgive.

What I didn't expect was loving the stepmom. I mean, it was never her I didn't like, it was the father, but at the end she was my second favorite character. Y'all know not-blood-related family is my everything. This woman deserves the world. And maybe a better husband. Like seriously. What does she sees in him?

I don't remember the names, sorry, but I enjoyed the friendship dynamic between the love interest's cousin and the main character. And this was one of those rare stories where I actually didn't want the mc to make up with her old friends. I was okay with one of them, but the other one was just no. Especially since we haven't even met them throughout the book. There were a few memories about them, but I couldn't care less.

Spoiler: What put the icing on the cake was the fact that they broke up at the end. I think that was a smart choice and not just because I didn't like her. I think it was perfect for this kind of story.

All in all: it is worth the read for the main character and the stepmom.
Profile Image for theresa.
302 reviews4,371 followers
October 4, 2022
In the lesbian rom-com of my dreams, Saoirse, who doesn’t believe in happy ever afters or love at first sight, meets Ruby, a lover of rom-coms and all their clichés. They’re both immediately attracted to each other and after rescuing/stealing a kitten together, willing to look past Saoirse’s no relationships rule. They decide to have a summer of fun, with all the clichés and dates inspired by the falling in love montages of Ruby’s favourite films, forgetting one key thing: that when the montage is over, the characters have fallen in love.

I never thought that cute summer romance books were for me but this cute summer romance with two proud lesbians front and centre has had a ridiculous impact on me. I want so many more books like this. It’s fun and romantic and I loved every minute of it.

This is an ode to cliché rom-coms and has all the staples of one: the chance first meeting, a reason why a relationship is a bad idea and then the inevitable falling in love montage. But this book was also more than just a cliché. Saoirse’s mother lives in a care home due to early onset dementia and this has a big impact on Saoirse, her life and her worldview. This theme is handled delicately and the harsh realities of this disease were at times difficult to read about. There are also some interesting family dynamics with Saoirse and her dad, especially surrounding his new relationship and the impact of her mother’s disease.

However, this book remains light and feel-good for the most part and I found myself grinning while reading it. I adored the characters, especially Saoirse who was such a wonderful and authentic narrator. Her voice was witty, sarcastic and she sounded like a real teenager. She wasn’t perfect but she learned from her mistakes and was easily likeable and relatable. I also adored Ruby, the love interest (shoutout to my late night tweet: 'I'm reading the falling in love montage rn and i just need you all to know i have a big crush on ruby'). She was a perfect match for Saoirse and unafraid to call her out, while also being such a lovely and positive character herself. The relationships and characters in this book all felt so human and touching; no one was perfect and that just made them all the more real.

Something else I loved about this book can be summed up by (another) late night tweet: 'i also have a big crush on the amount of times they say lesbian everyone say thank you ciara smyth'. This could seem like a small thing to some people, but as a lesbian only just starting to become more comfortable with this label, it means the world. There isn’t nearly enough lesbian representation out in the world and so reading about proud lesbians like these two is something I’ve just not gotten a chance to do very often. So many lines in this book just Hit me and I wanted to highlight and keep them forever. I’ve never been able to relate to a main character as much as Saoirse and I’m so grateful that I got to with this book.

As you can tell from this glowing review, I really loved this book and highly highly recommend it! This book also teaches you how to pronounce Saoirse and it’s worth it for that alone, not gonna lie.

I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter

*digital copy received in exchange for an honest review via Andersen Press and Pride Book Tours*
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,882 reviews5,797 followers
March 18, 2020
*4.5 stars*

The Falling in Love Montage is an angsty, wonderful, teen lesbian love story, and isn't that EXACTLY what we all need in our lives right now? I know I needed it.

The Falling in Love Montage is a stunning debut by Ciara Smyth. The lesbian YA scene is pretty barren, and though gay teen romance is becoming more and more mainstream, it was about time that the ladies got their time in the spotlight. Lesbian romance, FTW!

Truthfully, I don't read a lot of young adult or new adult books, and it took me a bit to get out of my "adult" headspace for this one. It came naturally to me to try to defend Saoirse's dad and think that Saoirse was a bit bratty, but then I really tried to envision everything from the position of a teenager in her shoes and it all became a lot easier. Also, be prepared for a lot of 4th wall breaking, which I don't often come across in my adult romances.

The best part of this book was the adorable love story. The meet-cute was squee-worthy, and each classic love montage scene made my heart happy. Plus, big time bonus points for a plus sized, body-confident love interest who was shown as desirable.

I think there was also a lot of personal growth for the MCs in the story, which I really enjoyed. I liked seeing Saoirse change and evolve, and I liked seeing her relationship evolve with all of the secondary characters as well as Ruby. It made the book feel very satisfying and compelling.

In fact, my only problem with the story, and my reason for bumping it half a star, is that . It gave me mild flashbacks to What If It's Us. *frustrated groan*

Despite any small issues I had with the book, I truly adored The Falling in Love Montage. I plowed through this book in one day, and though this isn't a light read (I cried on the beach reading this, ya'll), it is angsty, emotional, queer perfection.

*copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
679 reviews3,947 followers
June 8, 2020
I don’t want to forget what we had. Ever. In the past, we’re perfectly preserved. Best friends in love forever

I remember this book getting announced on twitter, and the subsequent outpouring of love, support and excitement from a lot of sapphic women, especially lesbians. I think this is going to be the exact book a lot of people are hoping for because it is exactly what it says on the bill. A lesbian girl called Saorise meets another girl, Ruby, at a party, and the two set off on a casual, no strings attached relationship where they enact out romantic scenes from romantic comedies. Meanwhile, Saorise is coming to terms with her mother’s early-onset dementia, the reality of it being potentially hereditary, and her father deciding to remarry. Also, it is set in The Republic of Ireland, which was nice! It’s a setting I don’t read enough from.

The Falling in Love Montage nailed one of my favourite aspects of YA contemporary. That is, the ability to show teenagers dealing with hard situations and navigating complex relationships while allowing them the space to act out emotionally. Although the centrepiece of this novel could arguably be the romance, for me it was more so the relationship between Saorise and her father, and her feelings about her mother’s dementia. For me, that aspect of the story drew more interest than the romance.

"The past shapes us. Even the parts you can't remember."

That is not to say the romance is bad. I liked the solid f/f representation that was conveyed through the romance. Saorise is a lesbian and is labelled so by herself and others often in the text. This in itself is a triumph, given how many YA books attempt to skirt around labels. I also enjoyed the portrayals of different types of sapphic relationships. Attention is given to Hannah, Saorise ex-girlfriend who was first her best friend. Then there are girls Saorise hooks up with, oftentimes who are ‘straight’, who want to explore their sexuality. And the there is her romance with Ruby, which is a meet-cute followed by casual, no string attached dates and make outs. I loved the various relationships here because I feel YA oftentimes tries to sanitise wlw experiences into the most acceptable form. Portraying a range of types of relationships, and showing that f/f relationships do not fit within certain boundaries was something I enjoyed. I didn’t find myself hugely invested in Ruby and Saorise in the sense of them being a ship, but I liked their dynamic and thought they were sweet. And I liked this book portrayed dating, kissing, and having sex openly and frankly.

The discussion around dementia is one I appreciated. I’m not sure the author’s experience with this, but as someone who has family experience with it I related to Saorise and her feelings on the matter. I liked how Saorise feelings on the matter were dealt with complexity, and how there was room for her to be angry, upset and scared. I thought it was nice to show the realistic burden a situation can take on a teenager.

So although I liked Ruby and Saorise, my favourite relationships in this book turned out to be the ones outside of that. Saorise arc with her father and the way this book dealt with the tensions of their relationship was the highlight for me. It was a relationship unlike any other I have seen portrayed in YA, and I liked how it did not come to a conclusive end because there was an acknowledgement that an issue could not so simply be resolved. There would need to be further work

There is also a side relationship between Saorise and Ruby’s cousin Oliver, who goes to school with Saorise. They’re ‘we kissed once before I realised I was a lesbian’ to enemies to friends and I thought they were just fun. They had good banter, and there is one scene between them that is one of my favourites in this book.

Despite how I have gushed about this book, I want to address my faults. First, the writing style. I’ve said it SO many times so I feel I don’t need to clarify but … first-person narration addressing the reader… I just don’t enjoy it. It always makes me feel distant and outside the story. (Ironic, since it’s intended to give the opposite effect). But the use of this style and some of Saorise’s thoughts were a little too corny for me and I couldn’t completely fall into the story. I also thought it started a little slow and fell into some debut cliche’s which I can forgive, but still noticed. For example, over describing the main character and occasionally telling rather than showing.

Overall, I would highly recommend The Falling in Love Montage for people looking for lesbian representation and f/f representation. People anticipating this book will not be disappointed. It brings out the best of the YA contemporary genre, showcasing complex relationships, good representation and dealing with serious topics for teenagers while allowing them the space to grow, love, change and maybe throw the occasional temper tantrum.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,513 reviews29.5k followers
September 5, 2020
So sweet and adorable...I loved this one!!

Saoirse doesn’t believe in relationships, because someone always gets hurt. And that’s what happened when her ex-girlfriend broke up with her, plus she lost one of her best friends, so while she’s more than happy to kiss random girls at parties, that’s it.

She’s also scared about her future. Her mother has early-onset dementia and now lives in a nursing home, and there’s a chance the same thing could happen to Saoirse. So why plan to go to Oxford or fall in love, when she could just forget it all someday?

And then she meets Ruby. Ruby is mischievous, playful, beautiful, and an avowed romantic. But she’s only in Ireland for the summer. So as the two want to get closer, Ruby proposes a deal: why not do all of the fun, clichèd things couples do in rom-coms, but without getting serious? No talk of a future, no meeting the family, no falling in love.

"I forgot what it was like to be kissed by someone who might want more than a kiss. I knew then that Ruby was definitely not experimenting. I should have been scared. I should have left the room. I should never have gone upstairs with a girl who made me wobble."

What do you think happens? Saoirse is determined to stick to the deal they made, even if it means keeping her fears about her future quiet from Ruby. But why can’t she convince her heart of this?

I loved this absolutely sweet and charming story. The book embraces and pokes fun at rom-coms, especially the lack of lesbian representation in the genre, but of course, it’s a rom-com in the end. There are a lot of other things at play here too, and the relationships between Saoirse and her dad and her friend/nemesis Oliver are fun and heartwarming.

In short, I fell in love with The Falling in Love Montage ! Well done, Ciara Smyth!

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for katia.
293 reviews339 followers
June 5, 2022
there is absolutely no way this comment was added: “If this was a lesbian film, unfortunately, one of us would have to kill ourselves at the end.” accurately describing how every piece of wlw/lesbian media ends in tragedy and then the author didn’t let them end up together?? okay fuel the stereotype i guess

love montage my ass 😭 i’m so bitter about this idc. what was the point lmfao
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for lily ✿.
185 reviews45 followers
June 9, 2021
[as a side note, if you’re the sort of person who can listen to music while they read - bad idea! and i wanna be your girlfriend by girl in red were stuck in my head as a i read]

i think that i have spent my entire life waiting to read this book. almost every sapphic story i’ve read up to this point has been a slow burn - which is fine, but i have been desperate for lesbians who, you know, actually get to kiss before the last chapter and a half. so this story definitely fulfilled that dream for me.

let’s talk about the romcom montage idea, too: brilliant. fantastic. gorgeous. now we just need an actual film like this 👍🏻 the prose was witty and genuinely had me chuckling from time to time, making this book so feel-good.

i knew when reading about saoirse that there would be reviews describing her as unlikeable or a bad person when, the truth is, she’s just human, and flawed just like the rest of us. she’s able to acknowledge when she’s being unfair and irrational, which is more than some of us can admit. (although i wanted to give her poor dad a hug, as he absolutely didn’t deserve the shit that he put her through.) she was three-dimensional, a character that you could accidentally bump into on the street (and if you’re izzy, then you probably will.) i also felt like the romance was well-balanced with saoirse’s life problems (and cheers to a book writer in the summer after high school, complete with ‘so what the hell am i doing with my life now’ breakdowns!!)
Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
596 reviews1,844 followers
June 12, 2020
rep: lesbian mc & li

Review also on Reads Rainbow. ARC provided by the publisher.

The Falling in Love Montage is a lesbian rom-com we have all been waiting for, including Saoirse and Ruby. The girls literally have a conversation about this, when they come up with the idea for their montage. They talk about how lesbian rom-com movies basically don’t exist, and the few we have contain nothing but cliches and lowkey harmful tropes. The Falling in Love Montage is obviously not a movie, but it does fill this gap rather beautifully!

The real strength of the book lies with its characters. All of them are incredibly well fleshed out and feel like actual people with set world-views & beliefs, and flaws. They’re allowed to make mistakes and to learn from them. They’re allowed to change their minds about things, to grow. None of them are perfect and so none of them seem artificial.

And so thanks to that, the relationships between characters are also beautiful. Not only the main romantic one, either! Saoirse’s relationship with her dad is probably one of the most honest portrayals of a father-daughter dynamic I have ever read. They fight constantly and about everything, but the love they have for each other is clear underneath all that anyway.

All the characters are also very different and that’s another giant plus. It’s visible the most with Saoirse and Rudy. They’re the personification of the “opposites attract” saying. It shows in their interests (Saoirse not having watched rom-coms before), in the way they talk about feelings (that is to say, Saoirse doesn’t), in their sense of humour…

Saoirse not talking about her feelings is actually one of the greatest aspects of the book. She clearly uses that as a coping mechanism and her reasons for developing that are very much valid & probably not what you would assume. Her past relationship, but more importantly her family situation and her health, made Saoirse vary of not only expressing her feelings, but even having them in the first place. The closed-off, brooding protagonist you know from every romantic movie, but make him a teen lesbian? What a concept.

The Falling in Love Montage is generally incredible when it comes to showcasing relationships. The novel makes it abundantly clear that not every couple is gonna be together till death does them apart and – and that’s the real kicker! – that’s perfectly okay. People grow, people change, circumstances change… Things happen. And The Falling in Love Montage, despite being a very cute rom-com, doesn’t try to sell us a candy-pink version of the world.

My only complaints are a matter of personal taste and as such might not bother anyone else. But still, I found the pacing at times rather slow & the writing style verging on boring, making it harder to engage; I didn’t enjoy the narrative choice of constant breaking of the fourth wall by Saoirse, and despite everything I said before, I really am just a sucker for never-ending love stories.

The Falling in Love Montage is a cute, summer-y lesbian rom-com & frankly that alone should be enough to convince anyone to grab a copy. But it also deals with some heavy topics, and does it very gracefully. And you most definitely will fall in love with all the characters.
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,154 reviews1,465 followers
October 24, 2022
A truly outstanding contemporary YA about a lesbian teen, Saoirse, and the summer after she graduates from high school. She meets a girl staying in her seaside Irish town for the summer and rom com aficionado Ruby convinces Saoirse to embark on a tour through the tropes of rom coms -- hence the title -- like going to a fair and having a phone conversation where neither of them want to hang up. 

I wrote a review of this book and Smyth's latest, Not My Problem, for Autostraddle, Ciara Smyth's Books Remind Me of Being a Teenager.
Profile Image for JulesGP.
458 reviews123 followers
February 15, 2021
I’m floored by how affected I was by this book. I want to go back and reread or even listen to the smart mouthed mc, Saoirse, spill her secrets and angst in an Irish accent in the audiobook.

It’s the summer between what would be high school here in the US and the start of college. She’s waiting for final exam results and possible entrance to Oxford. Saoirse is also nursing her first broken heart. All of this pales in comparison to the hardship of dealing with a mother who has early onset dementia and a father who at times, seems lost as well.

Saoirse is an intelligent charmer who meets life and circumstances with an acid tongue and teenage entitlement. She had me happily rolling in laughter at her retorts and just as quickly crying as I watched her struggling the way you do at that age, always feeling like you’re alone and believing that no one else could possibly understand what you’re going through.

There’s a girl, of course, who makes things better but Saoirse has to learn the hard way that the only way to heal and grow is to take a chance again at love and life.

For all the Rom-Com movie fans, this one pays homage to some of the best. I immediately watched Imagine Me and You again after I was done. No graphic scenes in the book.

5 big stars and thanks to Lex and her stellar review which gave me the final incentive.
Profile Image for Ellie.
578 reviews2,198 followers
September 24, 2020
I felt it was a little risky going into this - would it be so sweet I would come out crying and having my disastrous yearning sapphic state amplified by 100? - but actually it was rather balanced. The romance was fun and soft, and I really enjoyed Saoirse's family dynamics - her relationship with her mother, who has dementia, and her struggles with her father, who is getting remarried.

Admittedly, I found Saoirse a little . . . frustrating at points, but this did allow for a clear and very nice arc of character development. Also, this is a YA novel; Saoirse's actions were very befitting of a teenager and they did fuel points of the plot. That said, Ruby (her love interest, who is plus sized and body positive btw!) is a wonderfully level-headed character with a lot more maturity, and I do think a lot of the time she was the bigger person in the relationship and apologised for things that weren't necessarily her fault. She was kind and understanding, and generally was very chill and seemed like a great and supportive person to date, really. Also, Beth, Saoirse's father's new fiance? Actually a lovely person, really glad Saoirse eventually finds common ground with her in the end. (Also shout out to Barbara, that wild wedding shop owner/tailor.)

It was really refreshing to have such a clearly queer main character - Saoirse uses the lesbian label multiple times, there's a lot of sapphic kissing and sapphic fantasising, and her feelings about her ex-girlfriend Hannah are contended with (which actually isn't something I've seen a lot before, ex-girlfriends being more than a drop-in line in contemporary f/f books, and I really enjoyed as a result). It does make this a really strong F/F rom-com. That said, I found myself a little more emotionally invested in Saoirse's relationship with her mother, and her struggle to accept her mother's dementia and what it means for her. It was a really touching storyline, and parts really choked me up at points.

This book is about taking opportunities as they come and living in the moment, but it is also about how it's okay to let things go. There's a really lovely quote that stuck with me: "I do believe there's a right person for you at different times of your life. Whether that relationship lasts a week or fifty years is not what makes it special."

Yeah, that was a good one.

Something I'd also like to mention is that this book is IRISH and by an IRISH AUTHOR and set in IRELAND and that's really exciting to me, I love seeing UKYA being widely appreciated! Especially LGBTQ+ UKYA lit, it makes me proud. If I wanted to recommend UKYA F/F Rom-Com, this would be the one.

TL;DR: A cute UKYA sapphic rom-com with a clear lesbian heroine that also has a very thoughtful and touching narrative about family.

"See, that's the thing about the falling in love montage," she said, her voice hoarse, "is that when it's over, the characters have fallen in love."

also as a side note, why on the cover are ruby's stripy harem pants so low
Profile Image for Gaby LezReviewBooks.
735 reviews388 followers
March 5, 2021
Review of The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, Audiobook narrated by Alana Kerr

I’m not a Young Adult book fan but I’ve heard so many good things about this novel that I’ve decided to listen to the audiobook. I’m super happy that I did because it’s one of the best I’ve listened to this year so far.

Saoirse doesn’t believe in love. At 18, she has suffered enough by seeing her mum affected by early-onset dementia, a condition she could inherit. But when she meets Ruby, an English girl spending the summer in Ireland, she agrees to have a summer of fun by recreating every cliché found in rom-com movies. What they didn’t consider is that the rom-com characters end up falling in love for real…

The Falling in Love Montage is so right up my street. Despite the cover and title, this novel is far from a sweet romance and deals with difficult issues such as family ties, dementia, coming of age, and first relationships. Fortunately, it finds a very much needed balance with self-deprecating humour, naivety, friendship, and sweet first love. But overall, this is a bittersweet coming of age story.

The novel is written in first person from the point of view of Saoirse, an Irish eighteen-year-old girl navigating a complicated family life along with typical young adult challenges regarding career choice, love, and relationships. Saoirse is trying to find her own path confronted with the curve balls that life has thrown at her. Possibly not by chance, her name means freedom in Irish.

Saoirse and Ruby are polar opposites who complement each other well and have great chemistry. As this is YA don’t expect explicit sex but both are really sweet together. Their conversations, shenanigans, and montage dates are a pleasure to read. The secondary characters, especially Saoirse’s mum and dad, Oliver, and Beth, are all very well fleshed out and bring depth to the story and authenticity to Saoirse’s experiences.

Having said all that, for me personally, the setting of this novel made it stand out from many others of its kind. Most of the time that Ireland is used as the background to a lesfic novel I’ve been disappointed with the result. Having lived in Ireland for a decade with an Irish partner, I crave authentic representation of my place in the world. Some authors tend to disregard some crucial details about this country which are very obvious to us, for example, the shitty weather. Ciara Smyth doesn’t fall into this trap, possibly because she’s Irish herself. I loved that the depictions of the weather, sports, school life, and language sounded one hundred percent authentic. She even has a laugh at the way American-Irish actress Saoirse Ronan incorrectly pronounces her own name. I understand that well as my two sons have Gaelic names virtually unpronounceable outside Ireland (incidentally, we were going to call our second child Saoirse if she was a girl).

The audiobook was narrated by Alana Kerr who seems to have a natural southern Irish accent, very suitable for this novel. She can also do very good northern Irish and English accents which provide an authentic experience to the listener, but it’s still easy to understand for a wider audience. Ms. Kerr’s performance of Saoirse’s self-deprecating, sarcastic and despondent personality is spot on, as well as the range of different emotions that the characters go through. It is one of those books that benefit from an excellent narrator like Ms. Kerr. An absolute pleasure to listen to, though I might be slightly biased. 5+ stars.

Length: 9 hours, 53 minutes

This audiobook doesn’t seem to be available in Audible at the moment of writing this (February 2021)
Profile Image for Camilla (Fabulouslybooks).
217 reviews160 followers
September 18, 2022
2022: rereading your favourite book is the best act of self care you can do

2021: I think this was the first sapphic romance book I’ve ever read...WHY WAS IT THE FIRST?? This book just made me realise that I’m indeed a lesbian. Good representation MATTERS!
And as someone who has family member that has dementia that rep also melted my heart. Thank you for this book!
Profile Image for kory..
1,055 reviews117 followers
November 19, 2020
if you're looking for a lighthearted queer romcom, keep looking, because this ain't it.

content/trigger warnings; ableism, dementia, kissing, underage drinking, queerphobia, mspec-phobia, arophobia, acephobia, allonormativity, blood, divorce,

rep; saoirse (mc) is a lesbian. ruby (li) is fat and a lesbian.

this book is promoted as a queer romcom. it's not. this is a book about dementia. (they don't even end up together in the end so if you came for a romance, you've been warned). everything saoirse does, says, thinks, feels, etc. is driven by her mother being in a care facility for dementia and the fact that she might be there one day, too. the book is about her dealing with that, or rather, refusing to deal with it by treating everyone around her like garbage even when they're nothing but nice to her and then acting like the victim.

everything comes back to the dementia. even the romcom montage stuff is weighed down by saoirse's internal angst about the dementia. there is no break from the heaviness of it. and there is no break from saoirse being a terrible person to everyone about everything because of this. she is self-absorbed, hypocritical, dismissive, and rude and that's her excuse. her character is one of the most annoying clichés. her father praising her emotional intelligence and ability to deal with her feelings is the biggest fucking joke.

other than just hating the main character and being annoyed by the book being completely different from what it's being promoted as, i'm really not here for all the queerphobia in the narrative

— at times phrases like "a girl who likes girls" was used, and other times it was either "lesbian" or "lesbian or bi" and like, those aren't the only sexualities. do better, it's 2020, there's no excuse.

— "hetero sex" is mentioned but penis in vagina sex is not heterosexual. there are plenty of queer people having that kind of sex. stop applying sexualities to things that aren't people.

— related to that, "lesbian movies" are discussed and not all of the ones mentioned are even about lesbians. a f/f relationship does not a lesbian make. a lesbian "side eyeing" a movie where a woman dates a woman but ends up with a man is mspec-phobic as fuck.

— kissing and sex is referred to as "the stuff that goes with relationships" and uh why is this something that still needs to be corrected? romance doesn't equal sex. relationships don't equal sex.

— saoirse goes on a rant about straight women calling their girl friends "girlfriends" (um who the fuck cares, you don't own the word) and says if you aren't getting "up close and personal with the lady garden" then you're friends, not girlfriends. which is again equating romance/relationships to sex and completely dismissing romantic relationships as platonic because sex isn't happening.

— saoirse and ruby complain a lot about how "lesbian movies" don't have a lot of kissing, and while there is an issue in not showing the same kind of physical affection in queer romances that's in non-queer romances, they focus so much on this that it comes off as if they think kissing is inherent to romances.

— a tampon ad is mentioned where boys have their period and it's a badge of honor or whatever and i thought they were going to talk about how not only women get periods, but nope. the ad they're praising is a "if boys got their period it wouldn't be treated as shameful" type thing. which is a no go. menstruation is not woman only. fucking do better.

— saoirse questions if friends can fall in love because "surely if you weren't interested in the beginning then aren't you just settling?" which aside from being just ridiculous, it's also shitty to demi people who don't feel that attraction until a bond is formed, which takes as long as it needs. you're either erasing their existence or saying their feelings aren't genuine. either way, i've said it a dozen times. it's 2020, do fucking better.

— ruby says she wants more "lesbian movies" where the character isn't realizing her sexuality but knows from the start that she likes girls, and there's nothing wrong with that, until she snarks "i mean, she's thirty—are you telling me she's never met a girl before? never even thought about it? she seems so shocked by the whole thing" which is so fucking shitty and dismissive of all the real queer people who don't realize their queerness until late in life. you don't have to shit on the queer experiences that are often represented to express that you want different representation.

— non-queer people don't have gaydar. fight me.

— when saoirse is watching a movie in her bed with oliver she thinks "is this what being straight is like" because straight girls are the only ones who like boys i guess

the only other thing i noted was when ruby's body is being described saoirse says "if you don't think that sounds beautiful then you haven't seen her" which kind of rubs me the wrong way? it comes off "she's fat but wait until you see her she's still pretty" instead of just letting saoirse's admiration of her body speak for itself, ya know? idk. also, ruby is fat but the girl on the cover isn't. yikes.

so yeah, literally the only thing i like is oliver. he's a gem. the rest is trash.
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
622 reviews625 followers
July 5, 2020
bookstagram picture of the falling in love montage on ipad

“History is who we are. The past shapes us. Even the parts you can't remember.”

The Falling in Love Montage is a book that I picked up because of the f/f romance but I ended up loving for the family aspect.

At the centre of the story is the protagonist Saoirse, who, after the break-up from her girlfriend, decides she no longer wants to be in a serious relationship. She comes up with this rule to only make out with straight girls because that doesn't even give it the possibility of there being more (she has a clear rule to not do it for a dude's attention, in case you are worried about that though).
Along comes Ruby, a girl that Saoirse is more than willing to make an exception for, knowing there is a time limit to it, with Ruby only being in town for the summer. Saoirse come up with rules for this relationship too in order to not make it anything serious but as you can imagine, trying to recreate a movie's “falling in love montage” doesn't go well if what you want to do is NOT fall in love.

“See, the thing about the falling in love montage, is that when it's over, the characters have fallen in love.

The romantic storyline wasn't necessarily a weak point of the book but to me personally the aspect that stood out the least. Honestly, it was really more a way for the character to learn about herself and what she wants in life. And I don't mean that in a bad way or like the love interest was the one who made the character change herself.
But what Saoirse really needed at this point in her life, was just to fall for someone and realizing that feeling deeply for someone and being with someone doesn't mean that it has to be forever in order to make an impact or be of importance. I personally liked that portrayal because I think in YA we often have the feeling that a book needs to end with this feeling of forever for the romantic relationship in order for the book to have a happy ending and I just don't think that's true. So this definitely felt refreshing in a lot of ways.

My favourite aspect of this entire novel was the family dynamics though and the storyline about Saoirse's mum having dementia, plus the element of Saoirse being at risk to get dementia herself. I loved Saoirse's complicated relationship with her dad and his girlfriend. I thought that the way the author wrote this aspect was incredibly well done because as a reader you could very much see where Saoirse's dad came from with the decisions that he made and the way he behaved in general, while also understanding Saoirse's upset at it. It was a well balanced and nuanced portrayal of such a complicated issue.

I also liked when we got to the actual bottom of Saoirse's anti-relationship rules, which is not so much the heartbreak but more so her potentially getting dementia and forgetting everything, so that in her eyes basically nothing seems worth it. This aspect is surely not easy to write about but again, the author offered a really well balanced portrayal of this too.
I think that Saoirse's development throughout this novel in general was very strong and the story leaves you with a feeling of hopefulness, especially about how things don't always have to be forever in order to be meaningful and worth it.

“How about life’s too short to be second-guessing yourself the whole way? You can only go with what you feel right now and if you feel like it might make you happy, even for a while, jump in with both feet, girl, and get wet.”

Another aspect that I loved a lot was the friendship between Saoirse and Oliver, who is Ruby's cousin. I feel like this was one of the most well written friendships, in general but especially between a guy and a girl. Their dialogues just seemed very natural and I liked that they were just teasing each other a lot and still it was easy to tell, that they genuinely liked each other a lot. Their platonic chemistry was truly a pleasure to read about.

“Sometimes life knows what you need better than you do.”

Overall, I enjoyed this novel very much. I think all the aspects are well done and it is very refreshing in a lot of its execution of different aspects. If you are looking for a Contemporary with a f/f romance that offers a really interesting family relationship, I would absolutely recommend this novel.

Trigger and Content Warning for mention of assisted suicide and dementia.

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I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Susana.
320 reviews241 followers
February 25, 2021
5 stars

Have you ever read a book and felt like the author took the story from your mind because it seems like it was perfectly made for you? Because that's what this book is for me.

Saoirse is a love cynic: she doesn't buy that whole love at first sight and happy ending crap. The fact that her mother has early onset dementia and doesn't remember her own name nor her own daughter is enough proof of that. Having set a rule for herself to only kiss straight girls to keep romantic feelings at bay, Saoirse is more than determined to have a regular summer. That is until she goes to a party and meets a girl who has a blue freckle and completely challenges her beliefs on love as they embark on a movie-like love montage.

I absolutely loved the romance between Saoirse and Ruby. I'm awfully picky when it comes to F/F romances since most of the ones I've encountered seem to be underdeveloped and/or rushed to me, but the one in this book is nothing like that. It feels organic and I really liked that the two characters have total different views on love. The romantic movie theme that drives the plot was very enjoyable too.

Since we're on the topic of characters, I have to mention Oliver. His friendship with Saoirse was so fun and wholesome. I laughed out loud so many times because of their conversations; I can tell that Ciara Smyth has a great sense of humour.

I also very much appreciated the focus on family in this story, especially because I could relate to some of the themes explored. For instance, one of my family members also suffers from dementia so its portrayal, although a bit different from what I've experienced in my own life, really resonated with me.

I could go on and on about how much I love The Falling in Love Montage, but I think the best way for my message to get across is for you to read it. It's an amazing LGBTQ+ story that delves into difficult topics such as dementia, family disagreements, struggling to find one's place in the world as well as what to do after high school.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,461 reviews352 followers
December 18, 2020
I'm also a book blogger

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I could feel myself throughout the book wanting to like it so, so much, but the problem with this book is that I was expected a fluffy rom-com with a cute romance, and in reality this story is probably one of the most depressing stories I've read this year.

I don't think there's many YA parents I hate more than Saoirse's Dad. Originally, he's played off as the "forgetful, bumbling" dad, with his inability to communicate with Saoirse, his constant jokes that he knows she will hate, and letting the emotional burden of what might happen to her be hers to bear.

Later though, it's shown just how awful he is. The scar in Saoirse's hand might as well have been made by his hands, his choice to dump her mother in a care home and then meet someone else less than a year later, then casually drop on Saoirse that he's marrying this new woman and 'oh by the way, we're moving out' is despicable.

The romance was just okay, for me. There was one scene towards the end that I really loved, but I didn't find myself rooting for them as I should. I felt that Saoirse's old friend and girlfriend were a little too easily placed, like chess pieces, for her to resolve the conflict and after everything I read, the ending made me feel like there was little point to the romance.
Profile Image for Lucy Tonks.
503 reviews742 followers
July 2, 2021
I think I'll just stick to fantasy, thank you very much.

Happy Pride Month! In honor of Pride Month, I plan to only read books that have LGBTQ+ representation this month. I always try to read more books with queer representation so this month I will be trying to find new favourites and underrated reads.

1. Girl Made of Stars: 4 ★
2. They Both Die At The End: 2 ★
3. Darius the Great is not Okay: 3 ★
4. Every Heart a Doorwat: 5 ★
5. How To Make a Wish: 1 ★
6. Felix Ever After: 5★
7. The Song of Achilles: 3 ★
8. Clap When You Land: 4 ★
9. Last Night at The Telegraph Club: 4 ★
10. The Falling in Love Montage: 2 ★
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