Once again we’re introduced to Tully Hart, a has-been journalist who has let her life spiral out of control after the death of her best friend, Kate....moreOnce again we’re introduced to Tully Hart, a has-been journalist who has let her life spiral out of control after the death of her best friend, Kate. She feels like she has no purpose. So she decides that she just doesn’t care anymore...about anything! Told back and forth through flashbacks, Ms. Hannah writes a novel full of angst and sorrow. It brings us back to the characters that she had created when releasing her previous novel Firefly Lane in 2008, which was just so heartbreakingly sad. This novel does not have that huge pillow of tragedy, but it does touch on a few of the remaining character's lives with concern and bleakness. Each character has changed wholeheartedly since the death of Kate. So, the demeanor between the surviving characters is one of bitterness and suffering. And, now we are left with the task of reading about what kind of effect that tragic death has had within her family’s and friend’s current lives.
Now I’m not going to go through all the details of the novel because I am sure that many reviewers have re-told the summary entirely, but what I will say, is that Ms. Hannah’s ability to tell a story that does come full-circle when re-introducing a cast of characters, was perfect. We now find out what happens to the family that survives after a tragedy lived – how they go on, what curveballs are thrown at them when doing so, and finally deciding to be forgiving and thankful for the life that is now a part of their existence.
We see how both young and old live their lives after someone so important and loving has been lost. It is a story of redemption and second chances to right the wrongs that they so desperately have chosen. Will forgiveness be granted? Will heartache be everlasting? Does the will to just exist overcompensate the honesty and trust of a family member or friend? This is a novel of deliverance from that cold dark place of tragic loss and the will to begin again. Ms. Hannah writes another sorrowful but yet gripping novel. One not to be missed! You will not be disappointed by this sequel to one of her most stellar novels. And, by the way, whoever designed the novel's cover is extremely talented. It is simply gorgeous! (less)
First, I just want to say ”thank you” to Ms. Genova for writing a book about autism. Regardless if this is a book of fiction, I found myself re-living...moreFirst, I just want to say ”thank you” to Ms. Genova for writing a book about autism. Regardless if this is a book of fiction, I found myself re-living daily episodes from the past 19 years with my own son. The author really did her research well. It just gave me a sense of peace that I haven’t felt in a long time. I could relate to the main character, Olivia who constantly questions - “Why my son?”, “Why my family?”, “Was it something I did wrong while I was pregnant?”, and “Will we ever find out the true answer?”. Every day in this world we are faced with destruction, chaos, and tragedy – just trying to pick up the pieces for a life gone wrong. But autism does not come from life’s hard-knock choices. It comes from the unknown - a force yet to be reckoned with. So how do we live through the challenges of not knowing what’s in store with our innocent trusting children? Day by day, that’s how – knowing and hoping that you’re making the right choices for them because that is all they have in their corner – you!
This book didn’t just deal so much with the medical and scholastic aspects of autism. It dealt a lot with the feelings that come with having a child diagnosed with this life-long tragedy. It was beautiful, heartfelt, and meaningful. Now some people have criticized the author’s novel for having too many unnecessary details that were not needed to enrich the story. Well I, for one, thought that the details were important and necessary. It made the story more believable...because, after all, we all have a life to live. I have three other children, and life couldn’t be more hectic. I had to learn to spread myself pretty thin when they were young, and my husband held a job that was very demanding and time-consuming. Now, life is a little easier because my kids are 21, 19, 17, and 16. Without those extra details present in the book, it wouldn’t have shown how autism can have a huge impact on anyone who comes in contact with the disability, not just family members. For example in my experience, I have had people not be able to talk to me or look me in the eye when they first found out about what my son was dealing with, and other times, people wanted to know everything – they were just so interested and supportive. People’s reactions were weird at times. Some people treated my son like any other child, not drawing unwanted critical attention to him, and other people looked like they were scared to death, and didn’t know how to treat him. You never knew what people were going to think or blame you for when they didn’t really know what was really going on. I had people scream at me to take him home when he was having a episode in public, and other people offering their help. I was always surprised one way or the other. And, that’s exactly how Olivia is portrayed in the book when faced with awkward situations from her son, Anthony.
I absolutely loved the book-within-a-book idea. The other main character, Beth, writes a novella told by Anthony, while also living through her own more intimate family crisis. It’s written from his point-of-view. It was simply magical! After reading numerous books and looking up things on the internet for years, it just gave me a different incite as to how these children think and learn. What’s in their head is such a mystery. One minute you think you know what they are thinking because of a past episode, and the next minute, you’re scratching your head saying, “How can that be? It wasn’t like that the last time.” It definitely always keeps you on your toes and constantly keeping your brain in working order. There’s never a dull moment. It’s not all about the tough times, though. It’s also about the happy ones – seeing progress right before your very eyes when looking back through the years. The first word spoken – years later than a normal child, but spoken nonetheless. The first time they actually look in your eyes – not very often, but when it does happen, you’re so excited that just maybe you’re getting through that barrier built from the inside out. And, of course, the first hug – perhaps they will feel, just a smidge, how much they’re loved.
On that note, I just want to acknowledge to Ms. Genova how much I enjoyed her novel. It was inspiring and moving. It was beautiful and mesmerizing. But most of all, for me it was home.This is the life that my son lives each and every day. Every morning he gets up and takes on the same routine – something that feels comfortable and calming to him. You never know what that particular day will be like – good or bad. But I do know this, whatever it takes, he can count on us to do our finest; whatever he needs, we will provide it the most superb way we can; and, whatever makes him happy, we will always have his best interests at heart.
As the reader, you will probably need a few tissues to get you through the sad parts, but hopefully it will give you a better understanding of just what a child and a family goes through when autism is present in their everyday lives. It’s not easy, but you do it because you’re all your child has. I do believe that someday there will be a cure to unlock the mysteries surrounding this spectrum disorder that affects 1 in 88 children – autism. Until then, we just have to practice patience and understanding for these children who are just simply extraordinary in every way possible. (less)
All I can say is that I am way beyond totally surprised how this novel ended. Not anything like what I was expecting, which happens to be a good thing...moreAll I can say is that I am way beyond totally surprised how this novel ended. Not anything like what I was expecting, which happens to be a good thing. Who wants to be able to predict how a book is going to end from the very beginning, which in retrospect, is a letdown when you’re in pursuit of finding that element of surprise? Kudos to Ms. Fisher for pulling this off!!
Olivia Kaspen’s ex-boyfriend, Caleb, has no idea who she is. She discovers this during a chance meeting with him in a record store. They were in love once-upon-a-time, even when Olivia had destroyed what they once had during their years in college. How could he forget her? They had met in college...he, the skirt-chasing basketball star, and she, the recluse pre-law major. During those college years, Caleb didn’t hide his love from Olivia, but she was not used to admitting her true feelings to anyone. In the end, their love is doomed because of Olivia’s failure to commit to Caleb. As the years pass, both individuals have moved on, living their own lives separately, except now that the couple have re-connected, people will be betrayed and, eventually, secrets are divulged. In the end, will the couple decide that the love they experienced together ever be forgotten? Will both individuals have moved on enough in their lives for them not to be able to go back in time to the once special bond that they had so innocently craved? And, will the lives that they have now chosen be enough to live with when now all that remains is a love lost along the way? These decisions and others will eventually be answered along the way.
Within the novel’s pages, two very significant quotes that might also be reminescient in today’s society are expressed:
“I think that after the first time you give your heart away, you never get it back. The rest of your life is just you pretending that you still have a heart.” – spoken by Noah.
“You can only give your heart away once; after that, everything else will chase your first love.” - one of Olivia’s final thoughts as she narrates the conclusion of the novel.
my thoughts exactly...
This was a real gem of a novel...full of twists and turns that were explosive and unsuspecting. The character of Olivia was not like one that I had read about before. She put on the air of being quiet and not really interested in mingling with the popular and rich societal accolades, but in reality, she was just a sarcastic manipulating person willing to hurt others to get what she wanted. Caleb, however, really seemed to love Olivia and was oblivious to her shenanigans, even though he was this so-called rogue amongst the ladies. The book was totally convincing with its not so perfect ending. It pretty much made sense as opposed to the happily-ever-after ending. Great first novel!!
Zoe O’Shea is not the most attractive person and she doesn’t have the most appealing body...but she is honest and true, and, most important, she’s bea...moreZoe O’Shea is not the most attractive person and she doesn’t have the most appealing body...but she is honest and true, and, most important, she’s beautiful on the inside. Life just doesn’t go her way when she loses her job for trying to tell the truth, and then, after driving home in the pouring rain, she’s upset that her window falls off its track in her car, and she can’t roll it up. And, to make matters worse, her parking spot is taken, and she gets soaked from a passing car that speeds by her. Now all she needs is for her hotshot neighbor, Trevor Bradford, to bother her too! Probably stole her newspaper again...the bugger! Uggh!! And now, to top it all off, Zoe orders a pizza to comfort herself after a dismal day, and that guy Trevor goes ahead and claims it for himself. The nerve!! Unknown to Zoe, though, is that food in itself, is a Bradford curse. The Bradford appetite is a hereditary weakness dominated by the men. It was their way to pleasure and ectasy, which in turn seems to get them in a load of trouble. The Bradfords - cousins, sons, fathers, and brothers - seem to get banned from nearly every restaurant or takeout joint within a hundred mile radius because of their obsessive compulsion for food. So when Trevor sees that Zoe has ordered a pizza and chicken tenders, he can’t seem to help himself – especially considering that there is not one morsel of food in his refrigerator. Oh, wow, I wouldn’t want to be him when she finds out what he’s done, because even though Zoe is plain and ordinary, she does not lack for that will of spunk and fending for herself! With that being said, she marches herself over across the hall to Trevor’s and makes her presence known by ripping the pizza clear out of his hand while not hesitating to call Trevor as she sees him, “a thief” for stealing her pizza and chicken tenders. And so begins the most unlikely pairing of Zoe, with her plain and average everyday looks, attracted to a man she knows that she could never claim – and, the big, rugged and attractive Trevor...he’s just way out of her league. As their friendship grows, the two end up striking a deal that promises to benefit both of them for the time being, but as time passes by, it is obvious that the pair have changed their feelings towards each other. Together they will find common ground, her realizing how special she really is, and him realizing that she is just “perfect” for him. They learn to deal with her sad and disappointing past and his on-going reading disability, which just brings them closer in the end. This novel is wonderfully enchanting! Both characters were, at times, very comical and endearing. I found myself laughing outloud whenever they were involved in some very humorous situations. A novel not to be missed, along with the first book, Playing for Keeps, in this very entertaining series by R.L. Mathewson!!!(less)
Okay, so I finished this novel with tears streaming down my face along with a box of Kleenex by my side. This has got to be the saddest, most emotiona...moreOkay, so I finished this novel with tears streaming down my face along with a box of Kleenex by my side. This has got to be the saddest, most emotional book that I have EVER read! All I can say is WOW! How did the author pull this off without crying herself...or maybe she did? I really just don’t know where she got the heart and sensitivity to write a book like this. I guess that’s why she’s the author and I’m the reader. So, with that being said, Ms. Hancock creates the story of two damaged souls...Michael “Mickey” Chandler and Lucille “Lucy” Houston - each individual carrying around enough baggage that could sink the Titantic yet again. Mickey grew up watching his mother suffer from a bi-polar imbalance, which eventually plagues Mickey himself. Lucy dealing first with the fatal shooting of her father during his employment as a police officer and then watching her mother wither away from breast cancer, which eventually consumes Lucy herself. The two meet during Lucy’s 21st birthday celebration and are immediately attracted to each other. I don’t need to tell how they end up together...they just do. But what comes next is a novel that alternates splendidly through alternating voices in the past and present, first with Mickey’s dated journal entries beginning each chapter and then Lucy immediately following him reminiscing about their ups and downs as a loving couple. Now I won’t go into what BIG THING happens in their lives to totally change it even though it is revealed on the dust jacket, but I will say that it is really something HUGE that changes everything that they had planned for their future. The book touches on relationships between sisters, relationships between parents, and especially relationships between spouses. So much so, that it had me so believing that these characters were actually real. I really felt so sorry for these two people, and I couldn’t help but wonder,”How much heartache could this two individuals actually take?”. They were both such good and honest people. They really didn’t deserve all the sadness and anguish that affected their lives. You could also tell that the author did mountains and mountains worth of research or at least was very knowledgeable about the bi-polar disorder. I really have never known anyone with this disorder, but it does sound very unpredictable and highly dependent on medication. Ms. Hancock has written a touching novel filled with sadness, heartbreak, love, and mostly hope. Hope that anyone reading this novel will understand and be compassionate about the ravaging disease of cancer and the debilitating disorder of bi-polar. It’s now been almost a week since I finished reading this novel, and I can honestly say that I am still thinking about it. It’s been a long time since a book has really touched my heart like this. Please read it, you will not be disappointed!!! Can’t wait for the next Ka Hancock book to be released!! A simply outstanding debut!!(less)
And so, artist David West decides to live “outside the lines” of society, which suits him just fine. That’s the topic...moreMay contain possible **spoilers**
And so, artist David West decides to live “outside the lines” of society, which suits him just fine. That’s the topic that author, Amy Hatvany portrays throughout her most recent novel, Outside the Lines. In the beginning of the novel, David lives in a surburban neighborhood with his wife, Lydia, and young daughter, Eden, painting his pictures while also struggling to keep his demons at bay. The novel alternates between two different viewpoints, David’s and Eden’s, with flashbacks from the past and present, which helps to organize the plot’s timeline. Ms. Hatvany’s ability to “hook” the reader into the story is apparent from page one.
David West seems happy and content from the beginning of the novel, but as the story moves on, it is painsakingly apparent that the man suffers from a debilitating handicap of mental illness that he tries to camouflage with the consumption of alcohol. Eden loves her father, and at the age of 10 and 11, does not quite get that she can’t really help him even though her intentions are honorable. He has to want to help himself, and it doesn’t look like he wants to go there. David just wants to be happy living his life the way he wants to without medication, doctors, or interference from his family. The author gives the reader many glimpses of the family’s desperation to get David the help that he needs, but in the end David decides to leave the household, which ends up devastating to poor Eden.
Eventually, Eden takes it upon herself after twenty years, to try and locate her absent father. Is he living on the streets? Does he live near them or far away? Or, is he even alive after all the many years that have gone by without any contact? Those are the questions that constantly plague Eden until finally those questions come full circle and are answered. Ms. Hatvany illustrates an honest and truthful depiction about how this illness can affect a family and the victim.
The characters in this novel, besides David, also were not without their own flaws. Eden’s inability to commit romantically for any length of time was sadly heightened because of her broken relationship with her father. She was afraid of any companion leaving her just as her father did. So, as a result, she only had a couple of romantic interludes until finally in steps Jack, the man in charge of the homeless shelter where she begins to start searching for her father. Their relationship takes a turn for the better in the coming months as Eden becomes more trusting of him and learns to love again.
She does, though, have a few other relationships that are important in her life. The relationship between herself and her stepfather is somewhat strained due to the fact that Eden was determined not allow the man to take her father’s place instead of just accepting him in her life. No one could possibly take her father’s place in her mind. She did, however, have a wonderful relationship with her half-brother, Bryce. Even though there was a huge age difference between the two, they had fun together and truly supported each other. She also had a best friend, Georgia, that she had come to rely on and socialize with when she was not busy working her job as a head-chef in a well-esteemed catering company. Her relationship with her mother was loving, but often constricted. Her mother just could not understand why Eden had to find her father. She thought that it would only bring her daughter more heartache and sorrow. Amongst the pages of the novel, Ms. Hatvany reflects “that until a woman resolves the issues she has in her relationship with her father, she isn’t capable of having a lasting, intimate connection with a partner. If there’s something broken in her primary relationship with a male, the odds of success in any other romantic relationship she forms are pretty slim.” (pg 29).
In the end, Eden just could not mold her father into the person that she wanted him to be. Most people just want to be heard, loved, and valued for exactly the person they are, and that’s what David West desired. It’s enough for him to know that his daughter would always be waiting for him with open arms should he desire to see her. He just wanted to be happy and live his life the way he wanted – no matter if anyone agreed with the way he did it or not. And, Eden realized that her father would be happy as long as he was living his life where or how he so chose to. She was also finally content and happy after finally locating her father and establishing a new love with Jack. Not all life’s curveballs that are thrown at us end up all rosy and perfect. Ms. Hatvany writes another stellar novel that depicts the family dynamic of the father/daughter relationship!
A quotation that reflects living Your Life: Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is bliss, taste it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it. - Mother Teresa