Title: Real Men Knit
Author: Kwana Jackson
Publication Date: 19 May 2020
Number of Pages: 320
Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.
Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit.”
Review: Thank you Berkley and Edelweiss for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When Mama Joy suddenly dies, her four adopted sons aren’t sure what they should do with her knitting shop. There’s a strong argument for closing the business, selling the building, and splitting the profits, especially because none of them know how to run a knitting store. Then Jesse, the “lazy brother,” begs for a chance to prove that he can run the business, and he convinces Kerry, the girl who has worked there since she was a teenager, to help him keep the shop open.
I really wanted to like this book, but unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. There were a lot of things that I didn’t like, or that annoyed me. This review contains some necessary ranting because I need to get my frustration out somewhere.
My first issue with this book was the pacing. The first half of the book dragged on, and the second half of the book felt rushed. Most of the first half was spent introducing the characters and setting the scene, and after a while, it got repetitive and boring. I was also annoyed because, despite all of the introduction, the side characters felt one-dimensional. During the first half of the book, Kerry and Jesse do a lot of internal monologuing, and it’s clear that they’re attracted to each other, and that Kerry has had a crush on Jesse since she was a teenager. During the second half of the book, the “slow burn” romance between the two feels rushed, and I almost stopped reading when Kerry decided to throw herself at Jesse.
I didn’t like the relationship between Kerry and Jesse. I didn’t think they had very much chemistry, and I don’t think they’re a good match. Jesse is lazy, he’s a player, and he doesn’t do relationships. Kerry is sweet, ambitious, hard-working, and she has goals that she wants to achieve. The banter between them was awkward, there was too much jealousy going on, and there was a lot of dishonesty between them. I was annoyed that Kerry was constantly reminding people that she could make her own decisions and reminding Jesse that she wasn’t a typical good girl. I was also annoyed that Jesse’s brothers kept on reminding him that Kerry wasn’t like the other girls he’d been with. I also found it super awkward that the brothers (and Jesse) referred to Kerry as “Kerry Girl” or “our girl Kerry,” it made it seem like she was an honorary sister to them, which was weird.
I also didn’t understand the relationship between the brothers. The boys were adopted by Mama Joy, and they grew up together in a loving home. The brothers are known to have their differences and to argue, but to me, it felt like they really didn’t like each other. I know that their mother just passed away and that everyone deals with grief in their own way, but their relationship felt off. There was so much arguing over trivial things, and some of the words that Damien and Jesse exchanged were just mean. There were some moments when I could feel a connection between the brothers, especially between Jesse, Lucas, and Noah, but most of the time, I couldn’t feel it.
I now want to take some time to talk about some of the positive aspects of the book. I liked the marketing plans for the knitting shop, and the Pinterest inspired ideas. I also liked the Old Knitting Group and their devotion to the shop. Finally, I liked how the characters were able to help one of the boys at the education centre that Kerry works at who was being bullied for knitting. I liked the message that real men knit and, more broadly, that hobbies aren’t gendered.
Overall, I was disappointed by this book. I was excited to read it because the premise sounded promising, but it fell flat for me. I didn’t think the relationships between the characters worked, and I was left feeling disappointed.
Rating: 2.5 Stars!