Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is a novel about two young adults who swear not to be in love. It is the second book by Christina Lauren after their bestseller Roomies.
Hazel Camille Bradford, a nervous elementary school teacher and former wild kid, has a life filled with animals and odd social situations. She actually puked on Josh Im’s the first time they met because she thought he was the most attractive man she had ever seen. In the seven years since graduating, Hazel has forgotten about Josh and his ideal body. He is her model for perfection, and she yearned to be friends with him.
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Hazel makes the decision to relax one evening and attend a BBQ. Emily Goldrich, a coworker of hers at the school, turns out to be Josh’s younger sister. Josh follows Hazel as she announces that it’s time for them to become best friends. Josh is having a hard time with his superficial and materialistic girlfriend, Tabby. When he discovers that she has been cheating on him, he starts spending more time with Hazel. An unexpected encounter leads to more, but will Hazel resist her desire for Josh and pursue her newfound interest in building a life with him?
But at the end of the day”, she says and puts her hand outside the open window, letting the wind pass through her fingers, “being myself is enough. I’m enough.”
“The world seems full of men who are initially infatuated by our eccentricities, but who ultimately expect them to be temporary.”
“I learned a very important thing that day: my mom would never try to change for a man, and I wouldn’t, either.”
“The way Emily describes it: when I meet someone I love, I become an octopus and wind my tentacles around their heart, tighter and tighter until they can’t deny they love me just the same.”
“We both know Hazel is a butterfly. I think you have the power to take the dust from her wings.”
“He smiles, but it’s not a smile I’ve ever seen before. It’s a dangerous smile; he’s a movie villain, the seductive one, the one who robs you but fucks you real good first.”
“I saw it and I thought it would make you laugh.” Josh’s eyes soften, and he gives me such an adoring smile, it’s nearly painful. “You look ridiculous in that. I hope you wear it all day.”
“Are you listening?”
“You are perfect for me.”
“I know I’m like Pig-Pen in Charlie Brown, and I have chaos around me, but it’s like he doesn’t even care. He doesn’t need me to change or pretend to be someone else. He’s my person. He’s my best friend.”
“I realize I should be mortified that Past Hazel was so dramatically inappropriate, but it’s not like I’m that much better now, and regret isn’t really my speed anyway.”
“I always thought I caught you in . . . a phase. His left eyebrow makes a fancy arch. Apparently you’re just like this.”
“I love you too, you know.”
His kiss turns into a smile. “Yeah?”
“I’ve probably loved you longer.”
A trickster grin. “Probably.”
I pinch his splendid ass for that and he growls, pressing into me.”
“I can say without question I’ve honestly never known anyone else like you.”
“So completely undatable?”
“Something like that.”
“Dave hands me the bread. Josh takes some chicken onto his plate.
The silence is homicidal.
Emily finishes her wine and Dave pours her more. For such a small thing, Emily can really pack it away.
“Winnie has worms,” I tell the table, and spread some butter on my bread. “Took her to the vet earlier. I was so worried I was going to have to treat it with some ointment in her butt, but—nope—just a pill.”
I take a sip of wine and grin at them. Josh puts his fork down and cups his forehead. But in a few beats they all break into laughter, and Emily looks over at me with my favorite kind of fondness.
“She doesn’t really have worms. I was just kidding.”
I am nothing if not a decent icebreaker.”
“Please tell me you’re not that guy right now.”
“The guy you’ve always been, who wants me to be quirky but not weird, who wants me to dance only when other people are dancing, who likes telling all the stories about me but doesn’t remember how much he bitched about each of those moments when it happened.”
“Getting Pretty Panties Ripped Requires Real Damn Initiative. Or–general, personal, possessive, reflexive, reciprocal, relative, demonstrative, and interrogative!”
“I realize that finding the perfect person isn’t going to be easy for me because I’m a lot to take,” she says, “but I’m not going to change just so that I’m more datable. At the end of the day, being myself is enough. I’m enough.”
“Do you know how many guys like to date the cute wild girl for a few weeks before expecting me to chill a little and become more Regular Girlfriend? [..] But at the end of the day, [..] being myself is enough. I’m enough.”
She’s not saying it to convince me, or even herself; she’s already there.”
“I loved her in the way we love in high school, sort of intensely, idealistically, and without knowing each other all that well.”
“I wouldn’t exactly say we were scraping the bottom of the barrel by date seven, but Josh did feel the need to fake diarrhea, and I readily rushed him out to the car, apologizing profusely to our confused dates over my shoulder.”
“I used to wonder what it felt like to stand in the middle of a cyclone, a tornado, at the epicenter of an earthquake. Once or twice, when Tyler had bruised my feelings without any awareness of it, I would think, These emotions are tiny. Imagine standing right there when the entire Earth rumbles. I wonder whether what’s happening inside me is simply a smaller version of a tropical storm: everything is being blown around and upended.”
“I realize that finding the perfect person isn’t going to be easy for me because I’m a lot to take,” she says, “but I’m not going to change just so that I’m more datable.”
“Turning, I yell over my shoulder, “Emily, your Korean name is Yujin?”
She nods. “He’s is Jimin.”
I look at him like I’m seeing a new person in front of me. The two syllables of his name are like a sensual exhale, something I might say immediatly preorgasm when words fail me. “That might be the hottest name I’ve ever heard,”
“And honestly, the only way to avoid this conversation is to stand when System of a Down comes on, and pretend I am very, very excited to hear all of their songs that I’m not even sure I know. I close my eyes, and for just fifteen minutes, I try to push out all of these emotions. I dance away the feeling that I’m trying to talk myself into being attracted to Tyler.”
“Pretty much everyone we went to college with has a Hazel Bradford story. Of course, my old roommate Mike has many—mostly of the wild sexual variety—but others have ones more similar to mine: Hazel Bradford doing a mud run half marathon and coming to her night lab before showering because she didn’t want to be late. Hazel Bradford getting more than a thousand signatures of support to enter a local hot dog eating contest/fund-raiser before remembering, onstage and while televised, that she was trying to be a vegetarian. Hazel Bradford holding a yard sale of her ex-boyfriend’s clothes while he was still asleep at the party where she found him naked with someone else (incidentally, another guy from his terrible garage band). And—my personal favorite—Hazel Bradford giving an oral presentation on the anatomy and function of the penis in Human Anatomy.”
“The guy who does your lawn is always playing with Winnie, Josh. And he’s really cute.”
Dave looks at her from where he’s reaching for a cookie. “Isn’t he, like, nineteen?”
“You might be right.” She turns to Hazel. “Haze, do you have a problem with younger men?”
Hazel burps before answering. “Nope.”
“Joshy, what about you?”
“I think younger men are fine but I’d prefer a woman. And at least old enough to vote, please.”
David’s eyes light up. “What if we made them dating profiles on Grindr or eharmony or one of those?”
Emily’s brows come together. “I don’t think Grindr is the right one. Let me Google it.”
Hazel leans against my shoulder, staring at them. “They don’t even need us here for this.”
“Why do they do that?” I asked, watching the shiny body flip through the air before landing with a splash. “I get why they do it when they’re hooked—I’d put up a fight, too. But this seems counterproductive. Like, you’re a fish and people are trying to find you. Hide!”
Josh laughed and rested his elbows on the edge of the boat. [..] “I don’t know if anyone has asked the sturgeons directly, but I think it’s to clear their gills? Or maybe avoid predators.”
I squinted off into the distance. “Maybe it’s just fun.”
Josh grew quiet and I looked over to see him watching me. “I never thought of it that way before.”
“[The hat is] a bright orange-yellow—I mean, a nearly blinding color—with giant black block letters across the entire front: CHEESY.
And I don’t know why, but it just makes me burst out laughing.
‘Where did you get this?’
Josh breaks his stern attention from Tyler to pull the hat off his head and put it on mine. ‘I saw it and I thought it would make you laugh.’ Josh’s eyes soften, and he gives me such an adoring smile, it’s nearly painful. ‘You look ridiculous in that. I hope you wear it all day.”
“The elevator is small and slow, giving me a mental image of a bored teenager riding a stationary bicycle in the basement, sweatily coaxing a pulley to raise and lower tenants and guests.”
“Emily straightens. “Oh! What about your brother? He’d have so much fun with Hazel.”
“My brother is engaged.”
Emily levels him with a flat look. “David, we all know that’s not going to last.”