Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
There are moments when you read Kandi Steiner’s Make Me Hate You and you cannot help but recognize pieces of Steiner’s soul left on the page. Every moment of this story is exquisite even as it, at times, breaks your heart. To be honest, there were occasions in this book when I had to stop and read something a bit more predictable and comfortable to allay my anxiousness over Tyler and Jasmine’s journey. However, in the midst of the angst that Steiner so aptly creates, there is the beauty of a timeless love story that unravels your own soul, as I imagine it did to Steiner in putting it on the page. Every turn of the page is a fall into the undying love story of two people whom fate challenges at every turn. And every new page offers the promise of their moving beyond their challenges to their forever story. Steiner seems to create their romance effortlessly, reminding her readers of the brilliance of her writing.
From the first page, I was captivated by Steiner’s characterization of Jasmine and Tyler. There is a constant push and pull between these two that keeps you enthralled. I found myself holding my breath with their every meeting, wondering if they could ever work out the difficulties of their past, a past that Steiner lays out from the start of her book. You want Tyler and Jasmine to work, but Steiner never makes that easy on her reader. Instead, she hits at your heart over and over again, making you ask yourself why you come back time and time again for her brand of torture. And the simple answer is because she writes it beautifully, because she knows that love isn’t easy and love stories shouldn’t be either, and because the pay off of the ending is greater when the journey is fraught with the difficulties of life. I loved every moment of Jasmine and Tyler’s journey because there is a beauty in both the challenges and peaks of life. You cannot feel the depth of them without the other in contrast. Allowing yourself the opportunity to feel these moments feels decadent as you read Steiner’s Make Me Hate You.
Intertwined with Steiner’s evolution of her characters is her natural ability to place words on the page. While your heart bleeds at the strife of her characters’ story, you can’t help but fall madly in love with Steiner’s skill at stringing words together to create powerful moments on the page. When she writes,
“With his arms around me, I could do anything.
With his arms around me, everything was whole.
His arms were my home.”
this repetition reads like an incantation or a prayer. Her story is spotted with these moments, and they overwhelm you as a reader just as her story catapults you forward. Highlight after highlight reveals the dream of Steiner’s writing, and it’s one of the many reasons you feel compelled through the story, mining for the treasures of Steiner’s craft.
At the end of Make Me Hate You, the grief of the characters’ loss over the past reminds you that we have to live in the present and place hope in the future. I think that’s one of the big ideas behind Kandi Steiner’s newest book. Even more, Steiner utilizes one of the storylines that hits against a bruise in my own soul; it’s one that affects me time and time again in the stories of romancelandia: the want to be chosen, to be seen. Without spoiling anything, Tyler sees Jasmine from the start, and she knows this, but he doesn’t always choose her first. For me, that idea always tugs at my heart because we all want to be seen and chosen first especially when we’ve not been chosen ever. In the moments of her story where Steiner capitalizes on the emotions of the human soul, you want to both turn away and lean deeper into its truth. That really is the genius of a book such as Make Me Hate You. It makes you feel big emotions while reminding you that love isn’t always easy, but it seems essential to living abundantly.
In love and romance,