DiscoverContemporary Fiction

While I Have You


Not for me 😔

An almost 40 year-old man is attracted to a 16 year old girl and seeks out ways to be intimate with her.

I had a very hard time with this book. On one hand, you can tell the exceptional amount of care that was put into crafting each sentence and paragraph. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s a story that needs to be told anymore. In fact, I think the same story could have been told without the incredible ick factor.

I looked it up. The age of consent is 16 years old in the UK. So technically, is there anything wrong? I still say yes. What on earth can a 36 year old man find in a 16 year old girl - old soul or not - to relate to? And she worked for him introducing a power dynamic that wasn’t mentioned at all. 

I certainly didn’t relate to Leah. In fact, I remember when I was 17/18 and I had a younger friend who was engaged in a sexual relationship with an older man (a man who had once or twice been my babysitter). It’s not okay. I never once thought it was romantic. There is something wrong with older men seeking out teenage girls. Leah was written as fae-like, almost as if Justin needed to constantly rescue her. Can we not flip this narrative on its head?

Additionally, Justin was married! I found the wife to be the true victim in all of this. She was a victim of a cheating husband, and the victim of an author who created her to be the shrewish foil. The poor woman had PPD, but instead of addressing that and maybe making Justin the bad guy, she became absolutely intolerable. I didn’t buy it. It was manipulative and drove a wedge between the author and me - the reader. 

Structurally speaking, the first two thirds of the book were far too drawn out, and the last third far too brief. The concluding paragraph was laughable. I know I wasn’t supposed to, but I laughed out loud, and maybe with some glee. The book did elicit a great conversation about consent between some friends, which is interesting, because there wasn’t much mention of consent in the book.

I think this book could have done better if there were stronger considerations around the age of the characters, or at the very least, have the "mature-for-her-age" Leah consider the implications.

CW: self-harm

Reviewed by

I love reading books; in 2020, I read 200 books and reviewed them all (mostly on GoodReads). I am committed to posting my reviews on my blog as well, Leave it on Read. I love talking about books I enjoy (and even about books I didn't enjoy).

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Published on January 05, 2021

Published by Embossed Ink and Matador

80000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Reviewed by