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When Katie Met Cassidy

Review

When Katie Met Cassidy

It is rare for a debut author to earn the level of acclaim that Camille Perri reached in 2016 with the release of THE ASSISTANTS, a witty and astute book about embezzlement, advocacy and twentysomethings, which appeared on numerous “Best Of” lists. When I read it, Perri became an instant-buy author for me, one whose second novel, WHEN KATIE MET CASSIDY, I eagerly anticipated --- and it did not disappoint.

If you couldn’t tell by the title, WHEN KATIE MET CASSIDY is a romantic comedy, written in the vein of Nora Ephron’s classic, When Harry Met Sally, but with a twist: both Katie and Cassidy are women. We first meet Katie Daniels, a born and bred Kentucky girl with a set of values to match, as she is racing to a negotiation with a group of hedge fund lawyers. Katie has just been unceremoniously dumped by her fiancé, artsy and pretentious Paul Michael, and is self-medicating her heartbreak with Wild Turkey, bad takeout and a slew of unpacked boxes.

As Katie arrives at Falcon Capital’s office, she follows a trim, sharply suited man up the stairs, admiring his quick pace and no-nonsense demeanor. But when they arrive in the conference room and begin the customary round of handshakes, she is shocked to learn that the man she was following is actually a woman. Enter Cassidy Price. True to her small town upbringing, Katie has a few less-than-progressive thoughts as she studies Cassidy (“She must be a lesbian,” she thinks). Still, she is fascinated by Cassidy’s brashness and arrogance, traits that seem so very masculine and alluring.

"Both a lighthearted romance and a deeply nuanced exploration of identity, WHEN KATIE MET CASSIDY truly has it all."

Later that evening, Katie decides to be someone else for the night, throwing on her most provocative little black dress and pumps and heading to one of her favorite wine bars. In true New York fashion, however, the wine bar has closed to make way for an artisanal soap shop. (Insert eye roll here.) A chance encounter with Cassidy brings Katie to the Metropolitan, a grungy, raucous little dive bar where the clientele are all lesbians. The night goes about as well as could be expected, with Katie equal parts flattered and horrified by her encounters with Cassidy’s friends (not to mention the writing on the bathroom wall, which ranks Cassidy at the top of the sexual food chain), and Perri’s flair for humorous writing at an all-time high. As far as an extended meet cute goes, Katie’s night at the Met is the perfect balance of laugh-out-loud humor, cringeworthy awkwardness and the potential for a rip-your-heart-out love story.

As Katie and Cassidy continue crossing paths, they form a careful friendship full of the beginnings of something more. As Cassidy, a confident, sharply dressed player, begins to wonder if she is ready to settle down and become…dare she think it…monogamous, Katie must wonder what it means to be attracted to a woman and how it might change her identity, not to mention the way her family will think of her. Their romance is slowburn, crushingly realistic and absolutely riveting. If you thought Perri was at her best in THE ASSISTANTS, get ready for a totally new side of her seemingly limitless talent.

That said, WHEN KATIE MET CASSIDY is not only a pitch-perfect nod to Nora Ephron’s classic. Perri also achieves two distinct and impressive feats in this book. First, she offers readers a romance that has both feminine and masculine traits, but without any of the toxic masculinity we have come to tolerate and begrudgingly accept, a theme that has strong ties to the #MeToo movement. Even when Cassidy, who takes on many of the traditional aspects of a male romantic hero, is at her worst --- and, believe me, she can be deliciously bad --- she is never a threat to Katie or any of the other women she pursues. This is a refreshing and desperately needed side to romance that readers of all orientations do not often get to see.

Second, Perri graciously allows readers who perhaps have never encountered people like Cassidy a glimpse inside her head. Juxtaposed against Katie’s own occasionally small-minded thoughts, this gift becomes especially powerful. It sounds impossible that this is necessary in 2018, and yet I have no doubts that there will be scores of readers who finish this book with a newfound respect for the queer community. Even better, Perri does this all quietly and subtly; you will never feel as though you are being lectured or educated, but she will manipulate your mind and emotions all the same.

I feel as though I cannot rave about this book enough, but this review would be incomplete without a nod to the third and perhaps most charming character in WHEN KATIE MET CASSIDY: the Met. As the setting for numerous flirtations and fights, as well as a meeting place for found families of all varieties, the Met absolutely shines. Readers over the age of 21 will immediately recall their favorite bars and watering holes as Perri walks us over the sticky floor and through the unflattering lighting into a place where companionship is never more than a Wild Turkey away. There is a subplot here that is not to be missed --- believe me, you will come to love the Met in a way you did not think possible.

With summer here, there are a ton of reasons to pick up a funny, “happy” romantic comedy like this book, but for those of you looking for something with a little more depth, trust me when I say that it would be a huge mistake to underestimate it. Both a lighthearted romance and a deeply nuanced exploration of identity, WHEN KATIE MET CASSIDY truly has it all. What in the world will Camille Perri think of next?

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on June 22, 2018

When Katie Met Cassidy
by Camille Perri

  • Publication Date: June 19, 2018
  • Genres: Comedy, Fiction, Romance
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0735212813
  • ISBN-13: 9780735212817