ARC Review: Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

  • Title: Weather Girl
  • Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • Release Date: 1/11/22
  • Genre: Romance
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Content Warnings: depression, anxiety, teen parenthood
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Publisher’s Summary: A TV meteorologist and a sports reporter scheme to reunite their divorced bosses with unforecasted results in this charming romantic comedy from the author of The Ex Talk. Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer. In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell. Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies? 

Rachel Lynn Solomon has quickly become my favorite author. I have read all of her books in the past year and fallen completely in love with her work. She has a way of writing about mental health and Jewish identity that always makes me feel very seen. Her newest book, Weather Girl, is no exception.

Before the events of Weather Girl, Ari Abrams loses her fiancé because he can’t handle her depression when she tells him about it. He thinks she has been fake every time she has seemed happy to him. Of course, this confirms Ari’s worst fear that no one will be able to handle her at both her best and her worst. As someone whose first boyfriend broke up with her about 10 minutes after I told him about my anxiety and depression diagnosis, Ari’s story really struck a cord with me. I felt immediately connected to her.

I also appreciated the openness with which Solomon allows the readers into Ari’s head as she experiences anxiety attacks.

With shaking hands, I push out my chair, making more noise than I intend as I shove to my feet and stalk out of the newsroom. My ears are ringing, my lungs tight. No one can see me like this, and if I stay in this room a second longer, I’m going to scream.

Of course, everyone experiences anxiety differently, but it moved me to see such an honest portrayal of Ari’s mental health journey throughout the book. I appreciated that Weather Girl depicts conversations that Ari has with her therapist as well and includes discussion of Ari’s decision to use medication to improve her mental health. Portrayals like this are so important to destigmatize mental illness, and I am forever grateful to Solomon for including these stories in her books.

I have always loved the way Solomon weaves her characters’ Jewish identities into her stories. It is never surface level, and she always dives into her characters’ relationships with their Judaism. Early in the book, Ari remarks on her experiences being Jewish during the Holiday season.

I realize I live in a city with a Jewish population of less than two percent, but the assumption that everyone celebrates Christmas has never not rubbed at me like an itchy tag on the back of the softest sweater. This time of year, it’s nearly constant. I’ve been the only person not wearing a Santa hat during a broadcast before, and our social media blew up with accusations that I hated America.

This moment rings so true to me. At this time of year, I am often searching to find Hanukkah representation among all of the ubiquitous Christmas clothing and decorations (and Hallmark movies).

Ari’s description of Shabbat dinner with her family and her relationship to it also feels so familiar to me.

Shabbat dinner wasn’t a weekly tradition for us growing up, but every so often, we’d get out the candles and the good tablecloth. I’ve always loved the prayers over bread and wine, grape juice when we were kids, as much as I’d have rolled my eyes about it when I was younger, the togetherness. The instant sense of community.

This passage immediately brought to mind many memories of sitting around the table on Friday nights with my family around challah and candles. Judaism and its traditions have always been about creating community for me, whether it is among a family or a congregation at a synagogue.

I loved Ari and Russell’s relationship from the beginning of the story. They start as friends who are able to support each other in a sometimes difficult working environment. It makes sense that they are able to transition into having a supportive romantic relationship as well. Ari is able to talk to Russell about her mental health issues and remarks that she is even able to take antidepressants openly in front of him. Russell confides in Ari about the struggles of being a teen parent. The basis of their relationship consistently feels so solid, and I loved getting to follow them on their journey. Of course, the reader only gets Ari’s point of view, and I would be curious to read Russell’s perspective on their relationship as well.

As a musical theater nerd, I loved the references to musicals made in Weather Girl. I was impressed that there are not only references to Blockbuster musicals like Hamilton, but also to musicals that are less well known like The Prom. As someone who was obsessed with musicals in middle school, I loved that Russell’s 12 year old, Elodie, loves musicals as much as I did (and do). I will forgive Solomon for calling the Mean Girls cast album a “soundtrack.”

I loved Weather Girl. It has all of the elements of a romantic comedy along with discussion of serious issues. I highly recommend everyone pick up a copy when it is released in January. In fact, I believe if you order it from Third Place Books, you might even be able to get a copy signed by the author.

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