Bustle's I'm So Jealous series is dedicated to the books, TV shows, movies, podcasts, and more that super fans are so jealous someone else gets to experience for the first time. In this installment, Kerri Jarema writes about Katie Heaney's and Arianna Rebolini's Public Relations.
I never get jealous of other people's relationships. Sure, I'm your average 30-year-old woman who has spent a lifetime being inundated with the messages that romantic love is the be all and end all, the ultimate destination, the entire reason we are alive. I'm not immune to this. Rom-coms are my preferred genre of storytelling, after all. But the reality of love is undeniably messy. To commit to spending your life with someone means committing to the endless work that comes along with it. What doesn't require work? Crushes. Especially the unrequited kind. And, in my opinion, no one makes a better unrequited crush than a celebrity. So it's probably unsurprising that Katie Heaney's and Arianna Rebolini's 2017 novel Public Relations speaks right to my heart.
Public Relations follows 26-year-old Rose Reed, who unexpectedly becomes the publicist for Archie Fox, internationally famous British singer-songwriter. When Rose suggests a staged romance with up-and-coming indie star Raya, Archie agrees. But as the faux-mance begins to rehabilitate Archie's faltering career, Rose finds herself having unexpected feelings for him. Soon, she has to decide whether to let her fantasy crush go, or risk her career for a chance at love.
Rose's run-ins with the Harry Styles doppelgänger, Archie (yes, Archie is supposed to resemble Styles; no this is not Harry Styles fanfiction; yes Styles is one of my personal celebrity crushes), hooked me from the first page. As someone who has more than once fantasized about a famous person falling in love with me — if you've never done this, you and I probably won't get along — I saw myself immediately in Rose's internal crush trajectory.
There's the denial: "He's just a person like everyone else." Then the realization: "Oh, he's actually incredibly hot and super talented and yes, his lips look quite kissable now that I think about it." And finally, the acceptance: "I'm in love with a celebrity, and I only have myself to blame."
But while my tendency toward the celeb crush was validated by the witty, page-turny, Public Relations, the novel made one thing abundantly clear. Celebrity crushes might be easy and incredibly fun, but they don't hold a candle to real love. As Rose and Archie fall for one another, what begins as a fantasy soon turns into real work: They miscommunicate, they disagree, and they fight to be together even when the obstacles seem insurmountable.
The truth is, my celebrity crushes are safe, because they'll never break my heart. To lean on that fantasy is to ignore the fact that being in a relationship — and the vulnerability that requires — is a little scary. While I will never believe that romantic love is the only important thing, or that life is meaningless without it, I know that it can be worth opening up to — in all of its complicated, messy, joyful, life-altering glory. Besides, Harry Styles is single at the moment...
If you're picking up Public Relations for the first time: It wouldn't hurt to queue up some of your favorite Harry Styles solo tracks to listen to in the background. I recommend "Kiwi" from Styles's self-titled debut and his Spotify Single cover of Little Big Town's "Girl Crush."
If you love it and want more of the same: I highly recommend Zan Romanoff's YA novel, Grace and the Fever. You'll get a similar, "Falling in love with a Harry Styles-esque musician" story, but this time with a brilliant and moving exploration of boyband culture and the women who create it.
And if this book converts you into a member of the Cult of Katie & Arianna: Katie Heaney has published three other books: the 2014 memoir Never Have I Ever; the 2016 novel Dear Emma; and another memoir, Would You Rather, in 2018. Hopefully, she and Rebolini will reunite soon.