Hello Stranger [Book Review] #womensfiction #braindisorder #NetGalley @StMartinsPress #booktwitter

Hello Stranger is characterized by witty banter, an interesting and thought-provoking premise, likable characters, and a side of romance.

Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

Hello Stranger by Katherine Center (cover) yellow and white text over a bright blue background and a graphic image of a woman roller skating toward a man along a path of bright flowers

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Romance, Brain Disorder

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My Summary of Hello Stranger:

Thanks #NetGalley @StMartinsPress for a complimentary e ARC of #HelloStranger upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Sadie has placed as a finalist in the North American Portrait Society completion when she finds herself in a hospital bed diagnosed with a condition known as face blindness. She can clearly see everything except faces, and those she sees as disconnected puzzle pieces. Because she’s a portrait artist, this is obviously a life-changing and challenging career complication. In addition, she’s dealing with family issues including a mean half-sister and a sick dog. This is not the most ideal time to fall in love with two men!

My Thoughts:

A Favorite Women’s Fiction Author

I’m picky about my women’s fiction reads and Katherine Center is at the top of my favorite author lists. Her stories feature closed-door romance, limited profanity, witty banter, and substantial themes.


Is it women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, romance, or romcom? Amazon categorizes Hello Stranger as romance and romantic comedy. This answer is more complicated in my own mind.

Yes, Hello Stranger includes a slow-burn, complicated romance and witty banter; however, for me, this story falls nicely into the contemporary fiction category rather than romance or romcom. Sadie experiences a side of romance but the focus is on her life issues (job, disability, family relationships, etc). To be considered a romance, the story’s main focus needs to be the romance. Does this make sense, or is this distinction only in my own mind?

I could also categorize this as women’s fiction, although have mixed feeling about the women’s fiction category. Is it necessary when we already have contemporary fiction? Why don’t we have men’s fiction as a category? I certainly enjoy stories where men are the main characters without calling it men’s fiction. It’s simply a mystery, a thriller, literary fiction, etc. I guess we have the women’s fiction category to distinguish it from romance/romcom. I typically think of women’s fiction as a story featuring issues that concern women (which may or may not include romance). The condition in Hello Stranger can affect women or men, so that’s why I hesitate to categorize it as women’s fiction. Whew! I’ve gone down a classification rabbit hole here! Sometimes categorizing a book requires some mental gymnastics. What do you think about the distinction between women’s fiction/contemporary fiction/romance/romcom? If we were only considering the two categories of women’s fiction and romance, we can think of women’s fiction as having substantial themes in addition to romance. In this case, I would say Hello Stranger is women’s fiction because there’s a lot more going on than romance. BUT many others (e.g. Amazon) categorize it as romance or romcom. As far as I know, there is no absolute right or wrong. It’s an interesting discussion though, amirite? Or am I a word nerd and an overthinker?!

Face Blindness

The disorder that our main character faces is face blindness (or Prosopagnosia) and this is what I enjoyed most about the story. Center does an amazing job of describing this condition and its effects on someone’s life. This story reminds me in some ways of Left Neglected by Lisa Genova.


Sadie’s career and her love life are complicated by face blindness. In typical Katherine Center style, the romance storyline is engaging and full of intrigue (can’t say more because ***spoilers***).

Likable Characters

Katherine Center dependably delivers lovely and relatable characters. Sadie is likable and I cheered her on as she navigated her difficult diagnosis and restructured her life with determination and positivity. Sadie’s love interest is a major plot twist and an all-around good guy.

Recommending Hello Stranger

If you are a Katherine Center fan and appreciate contemporary fiction that features an invisible disability, a turned upside-down life, and a complicated romance, you might love Hello Stranger. It’s perfect for your beach bag or weekend getaway and might be an engaging light read for book clubs.

Related: Other books by Katherine Center I’ve reviewed on the blog are The Bodyguard and What You Wish For.

My Rating:  4  Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Meet the Author of Hello Stranger, Katherine Center

Author Katherine Center

BookPage calls Katherine Center “the reigning queen of comfort reads.” She’s the New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, including How to Walk Away, Things You Save in a Fire, The Bodyguard, and her newest, Hello Stranger. Katherine writes laugh-and-cry books about how life knocks us down—and how we get back up. She’s been compared to both Jane Austen and Nora Ephron, and the Dallas Morning News calls her stories, “satisfying in the most soul-nourishing way.” The movie adaptation of her novel The Lost Husband (starring Josh Duhamel) hit #1 on Netflix, and the movie of her novel Happiness for Beginners, starring Ellie Kemper and Luke Grimes, opens July 27 on Netflix. Katherine’s summer 2022 book, The Bodyguard, was an instant New York Times bestseller, a People Best New Books pick, and nominated for Book of the Year by Book of the Month Club. Bestselling author Emily Henry calls The Bodyguard “a shot of pure joy,” and bestselling author Helen Hoang calls it “a perfect feel-good rom-com.” Katherine lives in her hometown of Houston, Texas, with her husband, two kids, and their fluffy-but-fierce dog.


Is this new release on your TBR or have you read it?

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

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I purchase or borrow from the library all books I review unless explicitly stated that the book is free (arc).

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  1. Hi, Carole – This sounds like a fun book. I love comfort reads. I also enjoy reading ARCs for Netgalley. They just sent me River Mumma by Toronto based author Zalika Reid-Benta. An unconventional read for sure. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Thanks Sandy! I loved The Bodyguard! She’s a dependable author for me! So many romances are too steamy and too much language! 😂😂😂 I appreciate that she adds substance to her romances!

      How are you doing Sandy? How’s your husband?

  2. Great review! I really enjoyed this book, especially learning about face blindness and seeing how it affects Sadie’s life (and the book make me think of Left Neglected as well). I agree with the issue around how to classify the book, and tend not to like the term women’s fiction (or even worse, chick lit), even though I often enjoy the books that get described that way!

  3. Wonderful review, Carol. I don’t categorize this as romance either for all the reasons you mentioned. I liked the way she had to learn new things and deal with all that came at you, but I just wish she had taken help from others more easily.

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