On social media, two books that I frequently see recommended for the romance genre are Love & Other Words by Christina Lauren and Every Summer After by Carley Fortune. Often, I see these books recommended for people who love the other, as they are frequently compared for their plots. As a result, I decided to read both books and see which one I liked best.
Love & Other Words by Christina Lauren was originally published in 2018. The story follows Macy Sorenson, an aspiring doctor, who runs into Elliot, her childhood friend and boyfriend, years after they broke up. This novel follows a dual timeline: part of the story takes place across several years in the summer, when Macy would spend time in a cabin next to Elliot’s family home. Meanwhile, the current timeline focuses on Macy and Elliot reconnecting, with the dark reason they broke up looming behind them.
Every Summer After by Carley Fortune was published in 2021. The story follows Persephone “Percy” Fraser as she returns to the lake town where she spent her summers following the death of a family friend. There, she runs into Sam, the son of the family friend, who she developed a friendship and relationship with across several years. This novel follows a dual timeline: part of the story takes place across several years in the summer, when Percy lived next door to Sam during the summer. The current timeline takes place over the weekend of the funeral, when Percy and Sam reconnect, but also confront the reason why they broke up.
Just based on the synopses, it’s clear why Love & Other Words and Every Summer After are frequently compared. Both take place in small vacation towns, where the main female character spent her summers and developed a friendship-turned-relationship with the boy next door. In both novel, the love interests come back into each other’s lives nearly a decade later after a devastating breakup. There is even more in common regarding characters and the plots below. Just a warning, there will be major spoilers for both books below.
There are many similarities between characters within these books. In Love & Other Words, Macy is becoming a doctor and Elliot is a writer. Meanwhile, in Every Summer After, Sam is a doctor and Percy is an editor who wants to be a writer. Macy and Elliot bound over books and their love of words. On the other hand, Percy and Sam bound over Percy’s love of horror movies. In both books, readers get to see they characters grow up and see the relationship between the characters grow and change.
That being said, there are still some differences. In Love & Other Words, I found Macy to be a very complacent character who was unwilling to make change. One aspect of Macy’s story is that she is engaged at the beginning of the book. When she runs into Elliot, she realizes she isn’t completely in love with her partner. However, she stays with him anyway because it makes sense. When she does finally break up with him, they amicably part ways. I found Macy’s choices made very little change in the book, which resulted in little tension throughout the book.
On the other hand, Percy makes a lot more waves in the story. Percy is a very flawed character who makes many poor, but realistic choices throughout the story which results in a lot of conflict. While I would say the major twist in the novel felt very inconsistent with her character to me, it at least added some tension to the story overall. In her author’s note, Carley Fortune said she wants to make Percy realistic, even if it may make her seem unlikable at times, and I felt like she succeeded in that aspect.
As for the love interests, Elliot and Sam are extremely similar. Both over infatuated with their love interests to the point where it seems a little overbearing to me. They also have some identical choices, such as immediately breaking up with their significant other the moment when they run back into their first loves. Sometimes, Elliot and Sam both came across as a little too perfect.
Like with the characters, the plot of these two books are very similar from the basic premises down to scenes, plot twists, and even conversations. As I was reading, I couldn’t believe some of the parallels between these two books. Similarly, the ending of both books majorly disappointed me. With both books, I found the endings didn’t really match the rest of the book and dragged down my final ratings. In Love & Other Words as well as Every Summer After, there was a huge build-up to the events which broke these couples up for over a decade. In both books, these were quickly resolved with a couple conversations, which didn’t seem realistic or consistent with the characters or stories.
Initially, I rated Every Summer After higher than Love & Other Words by rating it 4 stars in comparison to the 3.5 stars I gave to Love & Other Words. However, after thinking further, I would probably rate each book at 3.5 stars. For this Battle of the Books, it will end in a tie. If you enjoyed Love & Other Words, then you will probably enjoy Every Summer After and vice versa.