Before starting The Natural History of Us, I didn't know that this book actually follows The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris. I thought that this was a complete standalone and I would say that for the most part it can be read that way. I do think that I might have experienced this one differently had I read the previous book, and it might have helped me to understand and relate to the characters more.
Looking forward to graduation, Justin Carter and Peyton Williams are given a class assignment that pairs them together for the entire semester. They are to pretend to be a married couple and must work together to complete assignments. The only problem is that Justin broke Peyton's heart and she wants nothing to do with him even though she misses him and still hurts over their breakup. But Justin views this as his second chance, and will do whatever it takes to convince Peyton to give him another shot.
I struggled a bit here with the characters. There were plenty of things that should have drawn me in and were unique to the characters here, and yet I found myself unable to really connect or relate to them. They just never felt fully developed to me. While I didn't dislike Justin or Peyton, I didn't love them or feel invested in their story. I also felt like things were a bit unrealistic between them as well. Things seemed to be far more serious that I would expect for characters of their ages. We are talking about characters that met at 15 and ended this book at 18. I felt like their declarations of love and how full on committed they were to their future were a bit too unbelievable at that age. These two are just graduating high school and to already be looking so far down the line (marriage and babies) just seemed a bit forced to me.
I also didn't care for the back and forth in time here. We get to see the present right before graduation as these two are reconnecting and flashbacks to the past of when these two met. Unfortunately we also spent the majority of those flashbacks not really get a lot of information. It seemed like we were just constantly waiting to find out exactly what had happened to have made Justin do the things he did resulting in the breakup. I think that is the majority of the reason that I kept reading, because I was determined to find out what that reason was. The story was slow and often times felt drawn out, with not a lot happening. Because there wasn't much going on, my interest continued to wane as the book continued. I think that this story had all the promise of being cute and one that I could have really enjoyed as I love second chance love stories, and these two did have some great moments together. But I just think that the execution here was what kept me from loving Peyton and Justin's story. I think if you like YA stories that you might give this one a chance as this could just be a case of it not working for me personally.
**ARC Provided by Publisher**