Review: We Could be so Good by Cat Sebastian
Nick Russo has worked his way from a rough Brooklyn neighborhood to a reporting job at one of the city’s biggest newspapers. But the late 1950s are a hostile time for gay men, and Nick knows that he can’t let anyone into his life. He just never counted on meeting someone as impossible to say no to as Andy.
Andy Fleming’s newspaper-tycoon father wants him to take over the family business. Andy, though, has no intention of running the paper. He’s barely able to run his life–he’s never paid a bill on time, routinely gets lost on the way to work, and would rather gouge out his own eyes than deal with office politics. Andy agrees to work for a year in the newsroom, knowing he’ll make an ass of himself and hate every second of it.
Except, Nick Russo keeps rescuing Andy: showing him the ropes, tracking down his keys, freeing his tie when it gets stuck in the ancient filing cabinets. Their unlikely friendship soon sharpens into feelings they can’t deny. But what feels possible in secret–this fragile, tender thing between them–seems doomed in the light of day. Now Nick and Andy have to decide if, for the first time, they’re willing to fight.
Dear Cat Sebastian,
I have read many of your works and by now I have no doubt that I find your books set in the 20 century more enjoyable than the 19 century ones. This book was lovely. It is mostly a character study written with such a delicate touch of two people who, to put it simply, belong together but at the beginning neither of them quite know it.
Nick has some feelings for Andy almost from the beginning. I think the beginning of the story should clue you in that nobody is hating anyone in this book:
“Nick Russo could fill the Sunday paper with reasons why he shouldn’t be able to stand Andy Fleming. Not only is he the boss’s son, but rumor has it he’s only slumming it at the New York Chronicle city desk — a job Nick has been hungry for ever since he first held a newspaper in his hands — because his father threatened to cut off his allowance. He can’t type. He roots for the Red Sox. He has no idea how to buy subway tokens. He has this stupid habit of biting his nails and then, realizing what he’s doing, abruptly stopping and looking around furtively to check if anyone saw him.
He blushes approximately five hundred times a day. He has a cluster of tiny freckles at the corner of his mouth shaped like a copy editor’s caret and, since Nick can’t stop looking at them, those freckles are going to ruin his career. With covert glances across the newsroom, Nick catalogs all the things he doesn’t like about Andy and stores them up like a misanthropic squirrel. He’s Nick’s age, twenty-five or so, but has definitely never done an honest day’s work in his life, probably not even a dishonest day’s.
He’s gangly, not short, but maybe a buck thirty soaking wet. His hair is that in-between color that on women gets called dishwater blond and on men isn’t called anything at all because it usually looks brown after being slicked back or combed smooth. But Andy doesn’t slick his hair back. He parts it on the side like a six-year-old. Nick doesn’t bother with any of that garbage, either, but that’s only because his hair is curly and has ideas of its own. Nick’s hair laughs in the face of pomade. It’s offensive, is what it is, that the boss’s son thinks he’s going to play at being a cub reporter. It’s possibly even more offensive than the story behind how Nick got the job, which owes more to the old city desk editor going senile than anything else, but Nick isn’t going to think about that right now.
The point is, Nick knows how to hate people. He’s no stranger to a grudge. He ought to spend the rest of his career resenting the ever-living daylights out of Andy. Instead he lasts less than a week. Less than a day, even. About forty-five minutes, to be exact, and that’s Andy’s fault, too. *”
And yes, the book is written in the present time first person switching between Nick and Andy. And normally it is not my favorite POV, but it worked very well for me here. Probably because it felt as if the main focus of the story was Nick and Andy learning things about themselves in the present time and their relationship was evolving in front of us. I thought it was a good choice for this particular story.
I was fascinated by the promise of seeing how journalists worked in the 1950s and we see some of that for sure, I am not lowering the grade for that of course, since I always try to evaluate the story I am reading and not the one I was expecting but I think I am allowed to wish for more, to see more scenes in the actual newspaper and them working.
Again though, the plot here was mostly very character based and everything revolved around Nick and Andy figuring stuff out, realizing that they are able to find the way to be together, how they feel about each other, what they want from their careers, I was especially pleased how Andy figured out that he could run the newspaper despite his many worries. Nick may not have made drastic changes about his career, but he also made some and I was proud of him, too.
We also got to see Andy’s relationship with his father changing for the better and some stuff with Nick and his family. It all felt so, I don’t know what is the best word here? Organic I guess?
There are also touches of humor and it worked well for me. There is my beloved New York on the pages of the story.
Most importantly I absolutely believed that Nick and Andy were it for each other by the time book ended.