I just want to start by saying I'm not much of a ChickLit person. Not opposed to it. Have been known to read it. But it is generally not something I rI just want to start by saying I'm not much of a ChickLit person. Not opposed to it. Have been known to read it. But it is generally not something I reach for at the book store. I often find the stories contrived, or not well thought out, or designed to trigger certain emotions. (will. never. read. Nicholas. Sparks. again. ever.)
So why did I pick up this one? Well, technically, I didn't. I won this book for my book club. As I opened the box, I sighed. Oh. One of these. But I got my gals their copies and we finally met over wine and food to discuss this book. This book that surprised the crap out of me.
This story chronicles the "new normal" of many families. A blended family faces pretty normal odds: difficult children, "evil" step-mom, harsh ex problems. Nothing too out of the ordinary -- at first. However, the story does it with grace and with understanding from all sides. The author's ability to change voice and not show any (or much) favoritism was refreshing. Characters wither and revive. Characters lack sympathy and then earn it. Very well rounded reading.
What about my group? Did they like it? The majority said yes. There were a few hold outs, I will admit. One comment, "I felt I was reading about the neighbors." Another, "I really was irritated by the dad." "I just wanted to shake that girl!" "Why don't people just talk to each other?" To all of these comments, I say great! This means the story resonated with you -- good and bad. Getting an emotional response from a book is a good thing. It means it plucked at something and made your heart stand up. I've read too many lately that did absolutely nothing for me or were so contrived that the writing itself simply made me angry. Not this book.
Lastly, I want to say that a 4-star rating from me is a big deal. There are better reads out there that I've only given 3 stars. Why so many for this book? I give 4 stars to a book I would recommend, and I would recommend this book. I recommend this book to someone who would like a nice, quick read but wants to finish it glad that they did. I recommend this book to someone who has just finished a slew of bad books and wants affirmation that a decent writer still exists. I recommend this book to someone who has finished an emotionally draining story and needs something to recharge the heart. Again, I recommend this book.
This book was a complete mind bender. It was (a) not what I expected AT ALL and (b) very well thought out. So if you are looking for a book that takesThis book was a complete mind bender. It was (a) not what I expected AT ALL and (b) very well thought out. So if you are looking for a book that takes nothing for granted, this is the book for you.
However, I will say that there aren't any characters in this book that I really like. The author takes you on a roller coaster ride. I'm annoyed by Amy or Nick, I'm surprised by Amy or Nick, I maybe like Amy or Nick, I friggin' hate Amy or Nick. Take your pick. You will, most likely, feel that way about either of these main characters at some point throughout this book. Generally, I need to connect with at least one character in a book to give it a good rating. They don't have to be good people, just someone I can connect with or understand. I can't say that about either of these characters which is odd. Odd that I still liked it. I think the story is what I wanted. Not the characters.
I do have to qualify my opinion with the fact that I listened to the audiobook. Doing so will sometimes change my opinion of a book. Some books are simply better read and some really come to life in audio format. I can say, from my perspective, that this title is one of the latter. The voice actors did a spectacular job (I've listened to some really bad, bad, bad narrations before). Nick is voiced by a male actor and Amy a female. That simple fact made much of this book so much more palatable.
I won't give spoilers so I won't discuss it much more. I will just say, expect the unexpected. Crazy....more