A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to learn I had won an ARC of Erin Hahn‘s Never Saw You Coming, the sequel to her 2020 book, More Than Maybe. I just read – and loved – More Than Maybe, so the characters were fresh in my mind when Never Saw You Coming arrived. It’s a lovely story, so definitely look out for it on its official publication date, September 7th.
|More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn|
|Number of Pages||300|
|Format I Read||Paperback (ARC)|
|Original Publication Date||September 7, 2021|
Raised by conservative parents, 18-year-old Meg Hennessey just found out her entire childhood was a lie. Instead of taking a gap year before college to find herself, she ends up traveling north to meet what’s left of the family she never knew existed.
While there, she meets Micah Allen, a former pastor’s kid whose dad ended up in prison, leaving Micah with his own complicated relationship about the church. The clock is ticking on Pastor Allen’s probation hearing and Micah, now 19, feels the pressure to forgive – even when he can’t possibly forget.
As Meg and Micah grow closer, they are confronted with the heavy flutterings of first love and all the complications it brings. Together, they must navigate the sometimes-painful process of cutting ties with childhood beliefs as they build toward something truer and straight from the heart.
In Erin Hahn’s Never Saw You Coming, sometimes it takes a leap of faith to find yourself.
I’ll start with the elephant in the room: Never Saw You Coming is a novel that explores religious themes deeply and consistently from the first page to the last. I knew this going in, but I’d loved (the rather a-religious) More Than Maybe so much that I was willing to give this sequel a shot anyway. I am a lifelong atheist. I didn’t go to church growing up, I have never believed in God, and I generally avoid religious themes in the entertainment I consume. That said, I was worried about how much I’d be able to enjoy a book that’s so enveloped in Christianity.
Luckily, although I was unable to relate to Meg and Micah’s unwavering faith in and love for Jesus, and although some of the church and youth group themes went over my head a bit, I actually truly did enjoy Never Saw You Coming.
First, Meg and Micah are both likable and good-hearted characters. Meg is whimsical and bubbly, though she’s been forced to grow up and find herself after a recent, shocking revelation. Despite her hurt and anger, she’s usually upbeat and forward-thinking, and I admire her strength and kindness. Micah’s trauma goes back five years, and by this point he is level-headed and hard-working, but secretly sweet behind his grumpy exterior. I really enjoy both of these characters, their personal arcs, and the relationship they develop with each other.
Now, let’s get to those traumas I hinted at. Both have some roots in church and religious hypocrisy – themes I found fascinating. Micah’s father is in prison for some shady stuff he did while working as a pastor at the local church. Meg has just learned her dad isn’t her real dad… and her devout mother, who preaches modesty and chastity, was once an unmarried pregnant teen. Both Meg and Micah have a lot to work through in regards to their faith and what their churches preach.
This was something I really liked about Never Saw You Coming. Erin Hahn does an excellent job of exploring the hypocrisies of and issues within churches (and youth groups), but from the perspective of people who do still believe in God. Why is there so much harsh and cruel judgment of teenaged girls? Why don’t the same rules apply to unmarried adult men? How can the church – the very support group people should be able to turn to in hard times – ostracize a family for something they didn’t do? From overly strict rules about how women dress to abstinence-only teachings, this novel tackles some very real issues within organized religion, specifically in Christianity.
Atheist that I am, I probably would have tackled these issues differently. But here, we get the refreshing perspective of characters who are believers, but are opening their eyes to problems within the church that need to be addressed. Much of what is being taught and enforced is super outdated and, moreover, harmful to people. It can lead to unnecessary feelings of shame; it can lead to living your entire life as someone you’re not. I appreciate how Erin Hahn wrote about religion here, offering slightly different perspectives through both Meg and Micah.
Their personal journeys with the above events are a major part of Never Saw You Coming, but the other key element is, of course, their blossoming romance. What I love about Meg and Micah is how naturally their relationship develops. This isn’t a book with unnecessary angst and drama; their love is as strong as their faith. They’re rock solid, they’re there for each other, and they help each other through their respective personal journeys. On top of that, Micah and Meg are simply adorable together! They may be my favorite YA romance couple ever – even with those religious themes that weren’t quite my cup of tea.
This is a companion book to More Than Maybe, starting the same summer that story ends. You don’t need to have read More Than Maybe first, but its star characters – Vada and Luke – do make appearances in Never Saw You Coming. (So do Cullen and Zack at the end!) It’s nice to see them again here. I still relate to Vada, not just in terms of her love of music, but also in her distance from the whole church scene.
All in all, I truly enjoyed Never Saw You Coming, even if I wasn’t exactly the right target audience for it. It asks important questions and offers valuable perspectives in a way that can appeal to a range of people, religious or not.
I would advise readers to be aware of the religious themes in Never Saw You Coming before diving in, but if that’s something you’re okay with reading, I wholly recommend it. (And I say that as a firm atheist.) It’s intelligent, sweet, and cozy, and a worthy followup to More Than Maybe. It has the same relatable characters and storytelling, albeit with notably different subject matter, and is definitely something to look out for this September.
About the Author
ERIN HAHN is the author of You’d Be Mine, More Than Maybe, and Never Saw You Coming. She married her very own YA love interest, who she met on her first day of college, and has two kids who are much, much cooler than she ever was at their age. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a.k.a. the greenest place on earth, and has a cat named Gus who plays fetch and a dog named June who doesn’t.
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