A windswept, youthful YA romance in cowboy boots. Five stars for reminding me how fun contemporary can be.

“Holy mother, it’s gonna be a summer, isn’t it?”

book cover: you'd be mine

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things. 

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen. 

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

I’m usually hesitant to pick up Young Adult contemporaries unless they have a strong hook–some fascinating setting or fresh point of view. Even then, most of the contemporary I read feels like work, even when I like it. It’s been a long time since a contemporary drew me in and made me forget I was reading. I’d almost forgotten that realistic fiction could do that, but You’d Be Mine reminded me.

Maybe Clay’s right about that. Maybe I do have some lofty ideals about country music.
Someone clearly needs to, even if it’s just some internet-famous eighteen-year-old with frizzy hair.

From Annie’s narration, page 85 of the US hardcover

I don’t have much interesting to say about this book besides gabbing about how much I enjoyed it. The dual-POV we-want-to-we-shouldn’t romance was executed perfectly, and I fell in love with Annie and Clay.

Incorporating original lyrics into a book is often distracting and awkward, but the songs in You’d Be Mine were totally believable and often quite sweet. I’m not convinced this is a particularly realistic portrayal of a country music tour (though, what do I know) but I was completely immersed in the little world of Annie and Clay’s summer together.

Is Annie a little too perfect? Is Clay a little too dreamy? Yes and yes, but I don’t mind one bit. Just because this is technically realistic fiction doesn’t mean it isn’t a fantasy, and Hahn knows how to spin a day-dream world of fiddles and boots and sunset kisses that made me fall in love.

a star is born movie still

It’s very fortunate for this book that A Star Is Born was released to such success only last year. It’s an effective comp title because there’s a ton of overlap in story details, but it’s also a good comparison for tone. You’d Be Mine hits a lot of the same beats as A Star Is Born, matching the sweetness and excitement and dread and disaster but with (spoiler, I suppose) a happier ending.

My parents loved each other. Madly. And somewhere inside of me, I hope they loved me, too. They sort of seemed to, in a distant, farther-down-the-line-kind of way. But Cora loved Robbie and she loved her music, and she was a slave to her drugs.
And Robbie loved Cora. Full stop.

(Annie’s narration) 209

I actually thought for a while about giving this one four stars, because I have a few problems.

It’s a tremendously self-indulgent book, and I became a little frustrated as it headed into broken bad boy trying to “deserve” perfect tragic girl territory. I don’t have a problem with the quasi-Christian imagery in the second half, but one particular scene (the one in the pond) was too heavy-handed even for me. Moreover, the more the book became a tale of Clay’s “redemption,” the more Annie became little more than Clay’s reward for being a good person, and that left a bad taste in my mouth. This was one of those stories that reminded me how narrow the line between prude and wh*re is, and it was disappointing that the book wasn’t more accepting of Annie as she was.

She can’t be my sun. We’d never survive that.

(Clay’s narration) 213

The fact that I gave the book five stars even with those reservations should tell you how much I enjoyed it. It’s been a long time since I raced through a contemporary, and You’d Be Mine was a wonderful reminder of what romance that fits you just right can feel like.

Content warnings for You’d Be Mine include:

substance abuse: on-page drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, substance abuse-related shame/shaming, overdose event, overdose death

mental health: on-page depression and addiction, flashback suicide

death: flashback death of parents, off-page death of a sibling, significant on-page grief, military death, grave visits

sexuality: mild/moderate on-page sexual attraction, PG/PG-13 discussion of sex/sexuality, fade-to-black sexual activity between consenting 18+ teens, references to sexual activity between minor teens

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