Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson

Posted May 30, 2019 by Brin in Reviews / 1 Comment

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Know Not Why by Hannah JohnsonKnow Not Why by Hannah Johnson
Published by Smashwords on April 23, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Gay, LGBT, Love & Romance, New Adult
Pages: 317
Format: eBook

Howie gets a job at Artie Kraft's Arts 'N Crafts hoping to score with his lady coworkers. After all, girls love a sensitive guy, and what's more sensitive than dedicating your life to selling yarn and ... stuff? (Okay, so maybe it'd be a good idea to actually learn what one sells at an arts 'n crafts store.) But things don't go exactly according to plan. Coworker #1 is Cora: tiny, much-pierced, and way too fierce to screw with in any sense. Coworker #2 is Kristy: blonde, bubbly, unattainable perfection. And Coworker #3 is, well, Arthur. It goes without saying that he’s not an option. Right?

… Right?

Yeah, Howie’s life just got straight up confusing.

Pun intended.

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You know when you get a book that just speaks to you? You’re not even sure why but it just does? This is that book for me. Know Not Why is a charming, funny, surprisingly deep and moving story. It’s a book about sexual awakening but it is also a book about friendship.

But I am getting ahead of myself here. First, a bit of background. I actually first read this book about six years ago. It very quickly made its way onto my favourites list. Yet, I actually didn’t get round to writing a review back then. I actually find it harder to put into words my feelings about my favourite books – I’m not really sure why that is but its always been the case for me.

I re-read Know Not Why again recently. It is still very sweet, smart and laugh-out loud funny in places. I worried that I wouldn’t love this as much as the first time but luckily that worry was for naught. It is still just as poignantly funny and sweet as I remembered.

The main character in this book is Howie, a young man who has gone through some trauma in his life but hides this behind a wicked sense of humour and larger than life persona. Howie decides one day that he is sick fed up with his lack of a love life and applies for a job at a local craft store (Artie Kraft’s Art ‘N Crafts) hoping to meet girls. Girls do love those sensitive types, don’t they?

His best friend Amber warns him against the idea but Howie is determined to make it work for him. When he meets perky and ever-cheerful co-worker Kristy, he thinks he has scored big time. Even Cora, the scary, pierced, yak-coat wearing chick has some possibilities. What Howie didn’t count on was the store owner Arthur.

Sensible and serious Arthur is everything Howie loathes. And boy, does Howie loathe him and his oh-so-perfect eyelashes (what? it’s totally a thing!) When he finds out Kristy is taken and Cora is… well, Cora… Howie realizes he may very well have made an error in judgement thinking that working at the craft store would net him some romance.

However, one chance encounter in the fake flower aisle with Arthur has Howie in a tailspin. He begins to question everything he ever knew about himself. He is straight isn’t he? Make-out sessions in the storage cupboard with Arthur would certainly seem to suggest otherwise…

“Um,” Arthur says. He’s looking at me dead-on, like he’s forcing himself to do it. God, I wish he would knock it off. I also wish he’d lose his eyelashes in a freak eyelash fire incident. And his lips, too, because all of a sudden I’m looking at them, what is that. “Yes. I thought we should discuss—”

“You mouth-mauling me?” I ask loudly, indignantly, like a tough sonuvabitch who doesn’t want to be mouth-mauled. I make myself meet his eyes. They’re green; I never paid attention before. This really light, interesting, intelligent green—

FUCK, this guy needs to STOP HAVING A FACE.”

This book… This book is everything. Full of fun, snappy dialogue, great banter and comical situations – Know Not Why is one of the funniest books I have ever read. The characters are also just so wonderfully quirky and endearing.

Howie is an absolute hoot – being in his head is like never-ending fun. Arthur is adorable and sweet and just everything you want in a love interest. Him and Howie together were just sheer perfection. Both characters are so different yet they have so much in common too. Both trapped and unhappy in different ways but together they bring out the best in each other and just make each other happy. It is a beautifully depicted relationship.

I also enjoy the amazing friendships in this book too. Kristy and Cora are awesome and I would love to have them as friends. Even Amber, who had her odd bitchy moments, was still a pretty amazing friend to Howie. And Mitch! Who can forget Mitch? That boy is just too adorable for words.

Howie’s interactions with his mother were also pretty darn great. It is so nice to see such a positive parent-child dynamic. Even his twin brother Dennis got a few moments to shine along with his super-weird-but-also-really-amazing girlfriend Emily.

There are just so many great relationships. Obviously, the Howie/Arthur relationship is my favourite (I ship these two so bad!!) but I am a fan of all the characters in this book.

Honestly, if you haven’t read Know Not Why yet – what the hell are you waiting for? It was one of the very first m/m romance novels I read and it remains a firm favourite. It is low on smut (what there is mostly happens off-page) but it is high on sweetness. Just a really great book. One of the best!

“What are we calling that, exactly?” I ask.

Arthur ponders this for a moment. “Hmm. How about … Haphazard Medley Inspired By Radio on the Drive Over, Messrs. McCartney, Lennon, Harrison, and Starr, The Most Hideous Preteen Holiday Monstrosity Ever Inflicted Upon The Ears Of Longsuffering Parents, The Smiths Because I Know You Like Them, And A Great Deal Of Nonsense Made Up Spur Of The Moment, All For The Beautiful Boy Who Is Sitting Next To Me, Because Somehow, Amidst The Recent Chaos, Dissatisfaction, And Mediocrity Of My Existence, Lord Knows How, I Seem To Have Done Something Very Right.”

Oh, this guy.

“You’re never going to fit that on any album sleeves,” I say, leaning in to rest my forehead against his.

“Just the beautiful boy part, then,” he compromises, starting to smile.”

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