Review: Ben and Beatriz by Katalina Gamarra

There’s nothing like falling for your worst enemy.

Cover Design by: Bokiba

Beatriz Herrera is a fierce woman who will take you down with her quick wit and keen intellect. And after the results of the 2016 election worked hard to erase her identity as a queer biracial woman, she’d be right to. Especially if you come for her sweet BFF cousin, Hero. Beatriz would do anything for her, a loyalty that lands Beatriz precisely where she doesn’t want to be: spending a week at the ridiculous Cape Cod mansion of stupid-hot playboy Ben Montgomery. The same Ben Montgomery she definitely shouldn’t have hooked up with that one time… The things we do for family.

White and wealthy, Ben talks the talk and walks the walk of privilege, but deep down, he’s wrestling with the politics and expectations of a conservative family he can’t relate to. Though Beatriz’s caustic tongue drives him wild in the very best way, he’s the last person she’d want, because she has zero interest in compromising her identity. But as her and Ben’s assumptions begin to unravel and their hookups turn into something real, they start wondering if it’s still possible to hold space for one another and the inescapable love that unites them. 

This retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is both razor-sharp and swoon-worthy: the perfect love story for our time.

My thoughts

Ben and Beatriz ended up being a lot more intense than I thought it would be from the synopsis. I was expecting a light-hearted spin on Much Ado About Nothing and instead was confronted with bullying, abuse, drug use, self-esteem issues, very dark mental health issues, and a level of angst which was uncomfortable at times.

Katalina Gamarra adds in sharp humor, but the overall message of looking beyond the surface whether it be with a potential lover or more important a friend is vital. My heart broke for the secondary characters as they became the central focus for me. I became more consumed by their outcome than Ben and Beatriz’s. 

There is great chemistry between Ben and Beatriz. The interaction is engaging and hot. I just kept getting distracted by the background noise of the secondary cast. This is not to say that the story is not good. It is. The romance ended up not being the focal point for me. The evolving friendships ended up becoming the focus.

Gamarra tackles many difficult issues in Ben and Beatriz. It is an honest look at what young adults are going through today. I think if only one issue was highlighted instead of so many, but they are interlinked so I can see why it was written this way, I might have focused on the romance more. I like this book as a general fiction book rather than a romance. For me this was not so much a retelling of Shakespeare’s work but a retelling of My So-Called Life

I received a free copy of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Further Details:

Published by: Graydon House, 9781525899959, August 2nd 2022

Edited by: Brittany Lavery

Narrated by: James Fouhey

Pages: 336

Secondary Characters include: Bisexual, Asian, Puerto Rican


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