I went on a bit of a book requesting spree from my local library recently, and Waiting for Tom Hanks was one of the many books I put a hold on. It’s definitely thanks to Instagram, though I can’t remember exactly who inspired the choice, it was likely many of you. It is definitely one of those books that has been posted nearly everywhere!
The title was of course what drew me in, but it was the first sentence on the back cover that had me immediately opening my library app (BEST. THING. EVER.) and putting a hold on the book.
“Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron.”
Yes please. Count me in. You’ve Got Mail is my favorite movie. Sleepless in Seattle is definitely in my top ten, and they’re both easily in the top three for my favorite romantic comedies (with Love Actually completing the trio). So a romance novel with a focus on some of the best rom-com’s in existence? I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
I stopped by my local library branch yesterday to pick up my copy on reserve and since it’s a newer release and in such demand, it’s a 7-day only hold. It’s also in the waiting pool, which means that others are in line and I can’t renew it. Of course I got another book that was a 7-day hold as well, so I knew I had to get to reading (leaving my other three reads on the back burner because I swear, it’s all or nothing when it comes to reading for me)! Before we get into the actual book review, let me just say that I really love the cover of this book! Sometimes I wish there was a whole separate Goodreads function for rating book covers because I have some opinions on the matter!
This is not the first book from author Kerry Winfrey, but it is the first book of hers that I’ve read. She has two other novels, and Waiting on Tom Hanks is slated for a sequel with Not Like The Movies.
The book focuses on Annie Cassidy, who is straight-up obsessed with romantic comedies. Perhaps mostly because it’s a connection for her to her parents. Her dad dies when she’s young, and her mother dies while she’s in high school, leaving Annie’s Uncle Don to move in and raise her. It’s just them against the world. A love of romantic comedies is something Annie has inherited from her mother and it’s a safe place for her. This kind of safety/comfort in fandoms is a theme that is carried throughout the book for many of the characters and one which I really appreciated and enjoyed as I relate to it.
Annie’s love for romantic comedies extends beyond mere comfort and enjoyment – she uses them for a guide in her life. Professionally, she hopes to write a successful screenplay (of a rom-com of course). Personally she analyzes her romantic relationships (and those of the people around her) on the formulas within many of her favorite movies. While Annie uses these unrealistically charming and magical movies as her guide in life, she lives her actual life on the safe side. The loss of her mother has made it difficult for Annie to leave the only connections to her that she has: her uncle Don, and her childhood home which they still share. Her neighborhood of Germantown, Ohio is safe and comforting and filled with memories (some good, some bad), and leaving it is a scary prospect. So when a movie comes to town to film, and her Uncle knows the director, ensuring her a job as his assistant, it’s fate. It being a romantic comedy just further proves that. It’s also on this set where her own romantic comedy comes alive, with not one, but three potential suitors (some more house trained than others…), one of which being the star of the film – Drew Danforth.
There are so many cute aspects of this book. This being a contemporary romance novel, I should expect that to be the case. But while the book has no shortage of adorable, charming moments, it was also a bit of a slow burn for me. It’s a really cute story, but Annie’s love for romantic comedies often borders on obsession and this repetitiveness got a bit grating to endure at times.
I found myself rooting for Annie throughout the book, but there were times where she frequently made me cringe. She’s the type of character who often gets in their own way, and while I know part of her story was her learning to let go, take risks, and move on, there were moments where she was a more than a little exhausting. But perhaps that’s just the thing when you’re seeing a character from your outside perspective – their flaws are much more noticeable than the flaws you yourself might possess, even if they’re the same or similar.
There’s definitely a bit of that “will they/won’t they” apprehension hanging in the air as the book progresses and I’m glad that it wasn’t entirely predictable from the word go. That tension is often what makes a romance novel good right?? It leads to those moments, just like in the romantic comedies of screen, where everything just crescendos and the story reaches its climax. Winfrey definitely nails the classic romance formula, but in a refreshing way. I loved all the various pop-culture/nerdy elements throughout the book – between all the talk of Nora Ephron films and Frasier, it felt like the book was quite often speaking to me, and me alone.
Waiting for Tom Hanks is really a lovely book – full of dynamic, very well developed characters. Looking beyond some of the early repetitiveness, it ended up being a super easy read for me as I plowed through the book in a little more than a day. It should certainly make its way onto everyone’s summer reading lists because it’s just the right blend of heavy and lightheartedness that I think we could all benefit from right now. Come on, couldn’t we all use an escape??
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ out of 5 stars.