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The Future She Left Behind

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One woman's journey home gets derailed by her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law in a novel filled with humor, small-town charm, rekindled love, and the resilient ties of family.

Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art.

But Shirley Pratt--master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn's terror of a live-in monster-in-law--has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn's trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams.

331 pages, Kindle Edition

Published September 5, 2017

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About the author

Marin Thomas

110 books666 followers
Welcome to my corner of Goodreads!

I was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. I played D-I Basketball for the University of Arizona in Tucson then married my college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony in Las Vegas. My husband and I are empty nesters living in Phoenix, Arizona.

I've written two women's fiction novels for Berkley Books and contemporary romances for Harlequin Books and Tule Publishing. To date I've published over 40 books. My women's fiction novel, The Promise of Forgiveness, won First Place in the 2017 Book Buyer's Best contest. My second novel, The Future She Left Behind was featured on Southern Living "Books we can't wait to read this fall" list and "was the Award Winner in the "Fiction: Chick Lit/Women's Lit" category of the 2017 Best Book Awards."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 82 reviews
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,692 reviews14.1k followers
October 15, 2017
I try to rate like genres, with the same in my reviews. This is a much lighter read than I usually read but it turned out to be a good palate cleanser after a read that pretty much made me feel quite disgusted. A woman, married for over 18 years, two twins ready to start college, is presented , quite out of the blue, with divorce papers. Her mother in law, who has never approved of her, has lived with the family for three years due to some forgetfulness on her part. They end up taking a trip together, little choice in the matter, back to Arkansas, home for our beleaguered main character, and her old high school boyfriend.

In turns humorous, insightful, watching these characters thrive and change. Reclaiming themselves in the process, reaching out for new experiences, and coming to terms with where they were and where they are now. Just a fun, lighthearted read for the most part,sort of a Sweet Home Alabama, kind of vibe. A good, and necessary detour, which we all need on occasion.

ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Darque  Dreamer .
360 reviews47 followers
November 26, 2018
Prepare to fall in love with this charming story of life, love, and family. The Future She Left Behind is beautifully written and shows us that "life happens". This one holds humor, small town glamour, and self discovery.

The Plot: After 19 years of marriage, a set of twins heading off to college, and becoming the "babysitter" to her forgetful mother in law, Katelyn is suddenly faced with a gripping reality. Her husband files for divorce and admits to cheating. So, what's a woman to do when she realizes she no longer knows who she is? She decides to take off to visit her mother in her home town of Little Springs, Texas. There's just one problem. Her mother in law's new apartment is not ready to be moved in to, and her husband is still away on business, so she is forced to bring her mother in law with her. Can Katelyn find herself again in her hometown, stuck with a woman she hates, and faced with a possible reconciliation with her high school sweetheart?

The Future She Left Behind is such a beautiful story! It is a perfect example of what happens when we become complacent in life and lose ourselves. It shows us that we should never give up on our dreams or settle, and it shows the importance of family and finding one's roots. I feel like the author drew inspiration from Steel Magnolias, Hope Floats, and Legally Blonde. This book is full of life, love, laughter, and strong women. It is a story about learning to open up to those around you, and it is a story of self discovery for several of its characters.

Our main character Katelyn is a beautiful, strong woman that finds herself lost to life. After her 19 years of marriage, she has become complacent and unhappy. After she finds out that her husband cheated, filed for divorce, and put their house on the market, she decides to find herself again. It takes her hometown, her mother, her mother in law, and her old flame to prove to her that she was hiding inside the whole time. What emerges from her cocoon of life is a stunning, happy, talented butterfly strong enough to live in the here and now and enjoy her life and family.

Katelyn's mother, Birdie, is also a beautiful, strong woman complacent in life, knowing she gave up on her dreams. She is a woman who is used to working for a living to make ends meet. It takes the help of her daughter to realize that she, too, should try to find herself again and revisit the talent she left behind. Birdie becomes more connected to her daughter, her love for music, and her new friendship with Katelyn's soon to be ex-mother in law.

Katelyn's mother in law, Shirley, is a misunderstood, ornery, stubborn woman. She starts off being stuck in her ways, snooty, and manipulative. It takes the town of Little Springs, Birdie and her friends, Katelyn, and another lonely soul to help her discover the lonely, fun loving woman dying to come out.

And finally, we have Katelyn's old beau, Jackson. Jackson is known for being the town bad boy in his youth. He is coming to terms with the mistakes he has made in life and realizing that he only he is responsible for his past and only he can be responsible for his future.

Pretty much every character in this book has a "not so shiny" past and undergoes some sort of self discovery. The story is real, heartfelt, and entertaining. If you are looking for a "feel good" story with well written characters, charming imagery, and beautiful morals, then look no further than The Future She Left Behind.

Thank you to First to Read to providing me with this free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.
620 reviews25 followers
August 7, 2017
A pleasant read filled with small town charm that begs the questions" Is it necessary to go back in order to move forward?" When Katelyn is surprised by divorce documents from her husband, she must plan for her future and reflect on her 18 year marriage. She decides to drive home to Texas from St. Louis...and take her dependent yet opinionated mother-in-law with her. Is it ever too late to pursue your dreams? Ms Thomas thinks not. It is filled with lovable, quirky characters that could be in anyone's life. It illuminates the importance of family and of friendships with both being what we make of them. The story is relatable and believable . It handles a difficult time in a woman's life with a light hand and humor. Even though the path of a true divorce never goes this smoothly, the divorce is merely a jumping off point for Katelyn's future to begin. It is somewhat predictable yet an enjoyable and worthwhile read.
I would highly recommend.
Thank you to the First to Read Program for the advanced reading copy.
Profile Image for Laura Drake.
Author 26 books248 followers
September 7, 2017
What a sweet read! Thomas' latest is funny, sad, uplifting, and frustrating (you want kill the MIL for most of the book), and a great story of redemption. Great characters you feel like you know!

Highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Lacey.
277 reviews51 followers
September 5, 2017
Thank you to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing, and Marin Thomas for allowing to me have an arc before the publication date.

This book was adorable! I didn't know how I would feel after reading the synopsis, but I fell in love with the way Marin Thomas wrote this story. 

After being served divorce papers from her husband who is away on business, Katelyn is forced to take her mother-in-law back to Little Springs. Shirley, Katelyn's mother-in-law, always berates her and makes her feel like she wasn't ever worth her son. After finding out the reasons why Katelyn and Don's marriage ended, Shirley and Katelyn started to bond while in Katelyn's hometown. 

The stories that each individual character had were loving, sad, motivational, heartbreaking and more. There was a lot in this book that were extremely realistic. The ending of relationships, returning home to your parents, finding love whether you're older or starting over, etc. Marin Thomas did a very good job on making it seem realistic.

There were some things in this book that pleasantly surprised me. There were some things that I just weren't expecting and I think that it made the book better for me.

The characters didn't shine for me all too much. I really enjoyed Katelyn, but they weren't all like she was. There were things with the characters that I would change, but not too much that it would change the book drastically.

I think that this book definitely has great potential and I loved the story. I wasn't really sure in the beginning what to think, but I'm glad I gave this one a try!
Profile Image for Cian O hAnnrachainn.
133 reviews25 followers
August 31, 2017
Authors are advised to "blow something up" in the first five pages of a novel, to grab a reader's attention. Marin Thomas does exactly that in THE FUTURE SHE LEFT BEHIND, blowing up protagonist Katelyn Chandler's comfortable life by introducing a divorce decree that ends twenty years of marriage.

Katelyn commences on a journey of personal discovery as a way to recover from the shock, with her mother-in-law along for the ride. Their relationship is stereotypical, but when you want light reading, it's not a flaw.

Back home in small town Texas, our heroine reconnects with her mother who's been largely ignored while Katelyn was doing the dutiful mammy thing and being what she thought was a good wife. She contends with some old feelings for the town bad boy who was once her darling, back before she set off for the big wide world to pursue her artistic talents.

There's the usual twining and twisting of personal interaction, romance blossoming all around, while Katelyn and Jackson dance around their past with eyes on a potential future. Sexual tension abounds, and let's not forget Katelyn's mother-in-law softening her hard edges as she develops an affection for the local widower.

Lots of touchy feelies to be had in this novel that moves along at a nice pace, though it does drag a bit through the middle. A large chunk of prose is taken up to show his difficulties in dealing with his alcoholism and recovery that could have been edited a bit for length.

All in all, THE FUTURE SHE LEFT BEHIND is perfect for a weekend read when you want to escape from the madness of the real world and go to a place where everyone is happy in the end. We need more of that than ever these days.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for the review copy.
Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,124 reviews724 followers
October 24, 2017
I ended up just totally loving this book! It's a feel-good story of second chances, fresh starts and family set in West Texas. It has a ton of heart!

Highly recommended for fans of contemporary women's fiction.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy - all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Vicki (MyArmchairAdventures).
392 reviews21 followers
August 13, 2017
Many thanks to Penguin Random House for an advance copy of "The Future She Left Behind" by Marin Thomas ~ anticipated release date of September 5, 2017. Katelyn Chandler is blind-sided with divorce papers from her husband who she discovers has been unfaithful several times throughout their marriage. One of the first moves her soon to be ex makes is to sell their palatial home, so Katelyn decides to drive home to Little Springs, Texas to lick her wounds and figure out her next move. Her snooty monster-in-law comes along for the ride to avoid being placed in retirement living by her son. When she left home at 18 for college, Katelyn had left behind her mom Birdie and her boyfriend Jackson Mendoza. She has a distant relationship with her mom (she sends her mom a check for $1000 on birthdays) so staying with her is an opportunity to get to know her mom as an adult and person. I think all of us can relate to not realizing your mom has a life until we mature. And also, as women, to losing yourself as you become a caretaker to a husband, children, mother-in-law or whomever. Katelyn gets the opportunity in Little Springs to rediscover her passion for art and realizing it's never too late to pursue your dreams. She also realizes, and provides counsel to a friend in a similar situation, that money doesn't equal happiness. I loved the well-developed characters in the small town of Little Springs. Sallie's Beauty Shop and the grocery store are great settings. Katelyn's mom Birdie and mother-in-law, Shirley find a unique relationship while love blooms again between Katelyn and Jackson. Definitely predictable but isn't it always easier for an outsider to see what should be? It's fun to discover new authors and I had to look up Thomas's bio to figure out her Missouri connection. I always love a book that takes place in familiar settings so especially loved the references to St. Louis, Kansas City, Stephens College and University of Missouri!
Profile Image for Debbie.
1,751 reviews96 followers
November 9, 2017
I absolutely loved this book!! I agree with one of the reviews that relates it to the movie "Sweet Home Alabama" with some bits of the sarcasm of the TV show "Mom".

I don't know how Katelyn did it. Putting up with that mother-in-law (Shirley Pratt) of hers. She was ghastly. HA!

I could relate to a lot of these characters. I think I pretty much talk to my friends the way Shirley talked to Katelyn, but to hear it from your mother-in-law?

It gets even funnier when Katelyn and Shirley take a road trip to see Katelyn's mother in Little Springs, Texas. Thinking back, I am laughing all over again.

This is a very enjoyable, entertaining and hilarious read that I just sped through.

Thanks to Berkley Publishing Group and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
851 reviews27 followers
October 15, 2017
Katelyn Pratt’s life moves from sedate satisfaction into a whirlwind question mark when her husband, after twenty years of marriage, has divorce papers served on Katelyn. He’s found a new, young love and left his wife with his mother, who is probably the most annoying woman in the world of St. Louis. Shirley Pratt is a snob who is constantly mocking or correcting her daughter-in-law. But her husband has decided the house will go up for sale and his mother will move into a senior apartment complex that Shirley decides isn’t ready yet for the way she wants it. Result: she has to stay with her daughter-in-law until the apartment is ready. Katelyn decides to take a trip back to her hometown in Little Springs, Texas. The only problem is that Shirley has to go with her because her son is too busy with his new girlfriend.
This is the crux of this funny but frustrating novel. However, Shirley is about to meet her match with Katelyn’s mother, Birdie. Although Birdie gave up her dreams, like Katelyn did, she’s no shrinking violet. She puts up with Shirley’s comments to a point but then is an expert at shifting the topic. At the same time, Katelyn meets an old love, Jack, and other events happen to make her take a long look at what works and what doesn’t work in a good life.
This is a novel about transformation, leaving behind loneliness and embracing the fact that connections with other people is not fraught with fear and rejection. Instead Katelyn and Shirley will evolve with new experiences and reflection on attitudes and errors from the past.
Despite the frustration, this is a delightful story that this reader found very enjoyable and recommends as a contemporary, very real story that speaks to families anywhere in the world!
Profile Image for Charlotte Lynn.
1,873 reviews37 followers
September 25, 2017
I laughed so many times while reading this book. It wasn’t particularly funny, but Shirley Pratt, A.K.A the mother-in-law from hell, was hilarious. She was mean, she was a manipulator, and she was funny. I love how she poked and prodded at her daughter-in-law and how the DIL let her but got her own pokes in. Katelyn, the DIL, was wonderful. She had the patience of a saint but didn’t take her life lying down. Sure, she became the stay at home mom from TV shows but it was what she wanted to do for her twins. Yet, when the going got tough she put her big girl panties on and did what she wanted to change her life. I like that she didn’t let her failed marriage define who she was and didn’t play the boo hoo poor me card.

The Future She Left Behind is a book of hope, not giving up dreams, and family. The characters were quirky and fun. None were perfect but they were all realistic. The storyline tugged at your heart, made you giggle, and made you have hope.

I recommend getting your own copy and enjoying it for yourself.

Thank you Roxanne Jones at Berkley Publishing Group for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kim.
680 reviews18 followers
November 21, 2017
This was a really nice read. It reminded me a little of Patty Jane's House of Curl, which is one of my favorite books. Katelyn discovers that her husband wants a divorce when she is served legal papers one morning out of the blue. Her bitter, complaining mother-in-law lives with her and Katelyn's first thought is "good riddance". But that is not the case; Katelyn's kind nature wins out and she and her MIL embark on an adventure home to Katelyn's mother and a small town in Texas.

When she was young, Katelyn left behind her hometown, her mother, her boyfriend because she wanted "the good life" she did not think she would be able to live in Texas. At first glance, it appears she made the right choice, but as time and the characters surrounding her reveal their true nature, Katelyn discovers that happiness is not found by having the best money can buy; it is found in little things done with heart and soul.

The book is sweet and easy to read, the language and situations are not unkind or full of dark tragedy, although the subject matter hints at the darkness of human nature. I am glad I was given the opportunity to read and review this book. It left me with a good feeling.
Profile Image for Lisa Welch.
1,158 reviews8 followers
September 10, 2017
Things to like:
1. The setting in a small town in Texas. It was quaint, and it felt like home to the reader.
2. The variety and development of the characters was outstanding. I'm sad to not be able to read more about all of them.
3. This was a quick, easy read. I was able to read it in an afternoon (granted a very lazy, laid back afternoon).
4. I liked the overall messages of female empowerment, following your dreams, and taking life one day at a time. Thomas also did a great job of writing about how life can be happy yet draining, fulfilling yet empty, and how nothing is perfect.

This isn't a life changing novel, but I recommend it if you are looking for an easier read!
September 7, 2017
FirstLine ~ Ammonium thioglycolate, also called perm salt, is murder on your hair.

These are the types of book that help us to refocus. They are those reads that helps us realize the good in the world, that there is room for second chances and fresh starts. I was delighted by this multi-layered story that shines a light on the things that keep us moving forward; love, family and friends. A wonderfully heartwarming and sweet story sprinkled with humor and love.
Profile Image for Crystal.
3 reviews1 follower
December 1, 2017
This story is entertaining yet tender. It explores the relationship between a family torn apart by deceit and divorce.
Profile Image for Elaine - Small Farm Big Life.
307 reviews79 followers
July 30, 2017
Katelyn grew up in a small town in west Texas. She spent her days drawing and dreaming of getting out. She loved the train tracks and the trains that came and left. She was sure that she was meant to be on one of those trains headed anywhere but there.

When Katelyn received a scholarship for her art and the opportunity to leave she jumped on it, even though it meant leaving her high school boyfriend and family behind. Katelyn had never meant to stay and left without a second thought to what she may be giving up.

In college Katelyn met a man from a well-to-do family and convinced herself she had found the life she craved. She didn't take the time to contemplate whether the relationship was true love, she just knew she could have the big house and family she wanted with him. After 20 years together, a set of twins and her caring for her mother-in-law, Katelyn is blind sided when she is served divorce papers.

"He handed her a manila envelope. 'This is for you.''What is it?' 'Papers.' He backed up. 'What kind of papers?' 'Legal papers.' 'I don't understand. Are we being sued?' 'Only you, ma'am. Your husband wants a divorce.'"

After all the years and Katelyn sacrificing her art her husband didn't even give her the courtesy of telling her himself. He is out of town on one of his many business trips and has her served papers. Katelyn is mad as hell! After indulging in alcohol and breaking some things she decides it's time to go home. With her kids away for the summer before they start college she has time on her hands. The only problem is she is still in charge of her mother-in-law. So, she loads her up and they head for West Texas.

Katelyn and her mother-in-law are fish out of water at first, but soon both women find their places in the small town. Katelyn is able to spend time with her mother, Birdie, and to rekindle the old flame with her high school boyfriend. She also takes up drawing and painting again. Katelyn slowly begins to find herself and understand who she could be now that she has the opportunity to start over.

"As she stared at her likeness, she realized that the old Katelyn -- the one who'd second-guessed herself -- had been replaced by a new Katelyn: a woman ready to take risks with her art. Ready to take her life in a new direction. A woman not afraid to fail."

This book is a story of a life gone off the rails until it's all tipped upside down and Katelyn is forced to start over and live life for herself. She gets a second chance at what life could have been like in her small town had she not been so desperate for something else.

"There's room for both of us in Little Springs if that's where you want to be. The town might not look like much to outsiders, but it's in our hearts. It's where you found your passion to draw. And it's where I found the courage to stay."

I was reminded of the show Chesapeake Shores on the Hallmark channel. I love that show and this book takes a similar path of what could have been if Katelyn hadn't have walked away from it all thinking it wasn't right for her. This book is a story of love, redemption and finding a second chance in life.

"The young girl had left the small town, but the small town had never left the girl."
Profile Image for Marisa.
1,412 reviews
November 28, 2017
Library Request. This was the poorest excuse of a book, the writing was juvenile and just bad, the characters omg where to start. They all sucked talk about a sad excuse for a book, I blame the editors where are all the editors......
Profile Image for OpenBookSociety.com .
3,816 reviews116 followers
November 10, 2017

The Future She Left Behind
By Marin Thomas
Author Website: www.marinthomas.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer jerjen


One woman’s journey home gets derailed by her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law in a novel filled with humor, small-town charm, rekindled love, and the resilient ties of family.

Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art.

But Shirley Pratt–master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn’s terror of a live-in monster-in-law–has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn’s trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams. (Goodreads)


Katelyn Chandler has a good life. She has a husband and twins that she adores and she does not want for anything. But that all changes when her husband files for divorce and admits that he has cheated on her. And to add insult to injury, her mother-in-law, Shirley, has been living with her. To say her mother-in-law is a nasty person would be an understatement. She never really liked Katelyn and finds fault with everything that Katelyn does. She is devastated and really does not know what to do. Her children do not need her as much now, since they are college-age. She will be okay financially but she does not know what she wants to do with the rest of her life. She decides to go home, Little Springs, Texas, to visit with her mom and try to figure things out. But she has to take her mother-in-law with her on the road trip, because Shirley’s memory is not what it used to be and she could hurt herself if she is left alone for too long. Shirley and her own mother, Birdie, do not get along at all and Katelyn is afraid that there will be many blow-ups in her future. And there is also the problem of her possible running into Jackson, her high school sweetheart. She is not proud of herself for the way she ran out on Jackson, and she does not know what will happen if she runs into him. But deciding that she will make the trip and deal with the fallout later, that is what she does.

The characters are well rounded, well developed and three dimensional. All of them are flawed in one way or another, but that just made them see more realistic to me. The conversations and interactions between them all were at times funny, at times difficult but always heartwarming. Katelyn realizes that she may not have married so much for love but instead for money and security. She also realizes that she lost herself while she was married. Birdie also gave up her dream when she became a mother and had some jealousy towards her daughter. Shirley is just a mean-spirited woman who enjoys being better than others. And Jackson has lived up to his bad-boy image and is not proud of some of the things he has done in his past. All of the characters have things to work on and they have to decide if they want to become better people.

This book is such a wonderful read. Full of humor, self discovery, growing pains and the realization that family is everything, it is a feel good book that will make the reader feel a multitude of emotions. I highly recommend it and I am so glad that I read it.
Profile Image for Desiree.
1,001 reviews25 followers
November 23, 2019
So, my experience with this book is interesting. It's something that has been on my shelf for quite a long time, well over a year. I think when I originally purchased it, it was off the part of the synopsis that talked about the protagonist, Katelyn, reuniting with her first love, Jackson. I'm a sucker for second-chance romances, so it makes sense I would pick this up.

But when I picked this up and re-read the synopsis, all I could think was, "Why on Earth would I pick this up?! The last thing I want to read about is this woman on a road trip with her mean soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law...

Funny enough, the parts between these ladies and her MIL and the other elderly ladies in town were my favorite parts. They had the most life to them, and felt the most authentic. The romance, on the other hand, felt under-developed and watered down. It wasn't slow burn so much ice cold. I could deal with angst, but this felt more tortured than anything. I liked the idea of the romance more than the execution.

Also, the writing was incredibly simplistic. Characters have conversations where they talk about things that happened in the previous scene pretty much verbatim. I understand that if you were telling someone a story about something that happened the day before, it would be realistic, but as a reader I don't need each conversation and scene rehashed for me in the next scene. It would have been as simple as, "When Katelyn got to work the next day, she filled Layla in on her conversation with her mother the day before." Then they could get on with the story.

I loved the scenes with the old ladies, but the end of the book was focused on the mediocre romance. I did like that Shirley found someone who made her happy, but I didn't enjoy the wishy-washy nature of Katelyn and her relationship with Jackson.

As far as Jackson goes, he was kind of a wet blanket. Like, I get that he's in recovery and has to make sure that he's not making decisions that could put his sobriety at risk, but damn. He's dull as dirt.

I could see how this could appeal to someone who doesn't enjoy sex scenes in books, but I find it amusing that with how much these characters talk about sex and sleeping around with people, there are no sex scenes in the book.

I could absolutely see this as a movie. Parts of it gave me Sweet Home Alabama vibes and I'm not mad about it. I just wish the romance was more developed in the text.
Profile Image for Marco.
636 reviews16 followers
September 5, 2017
For fans of 'Hope Floats'. It was kind of refreshing to read a novel where someone isn't investigating a murder or everyone is seriously dysfunctional. "The Future She Left Behind" is a movie-waiting-to-happen.

Katelyn Chandler is suddenly at the start of a divorce and left with a mother-in-law who forgets everything but a string of criticisms to her daughter-in-law. In an effort to regain the "future she left behind", she goes home to Little Springs, Texas and the mother she left behind and the one that got away who's still waiting.

Living a rich lifestyle and in somewhat ignorant bliss, Katelyn is stunned one day when she answers the door and is given divorce papers. Turns out her husband, Don, has been having an affair and wants to be with his new girlfriend. With two grown twins about to go to college, suddenly Katelyn is left wondering where her life is going now.

Don didn't just leave his wife and kids behind, he also left his mother, Shirley, who is suffering from memory loss. The two have never gotten along and Shirley isn't without a sting of criticisms for Katelyn...or anything or anyone else for that matter.

Wondering what to do, Katelyn leaves for her hometown of Little Springs, Texas with her mother-in-law in tow where she reconnects with her mother whom she rarely sees, Birdie, and the high school sweetheart she left behind when she went to college, Jackson Mendoza.

As she reconciles with her mother and confronts Jackson's past and the pain she might have caused both of them, Katelyn also returns to herself and finds her love of drawing restored in the place she couldn't wait to leave all those years ago. The small-town life even captures Shirley's attention and everyone might just find what they were looking for all along in the least likely of places.

A rom-com book (and that's not a criticism) that will more than keep the reader's attention and funny and poignant moments equaled out in the mix of a story about identity, family, and starting over. Book Club ready with discussion questions at the end of the book.

Also, I've already cast this book in my mind for Hollywood: Rachel Adams is Katelyn Chandler, Bette Midler is Shirley Pratt, Susan Sarandon is Birdie, Nicholas Gonzalez is Jackson Mendoza.
Profile Image for Amber Garabrandt.
783 reviews39 followers
September 4, 2017
Delivered divorce papers by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler wants to pack up and head home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants to reconnect with her mom, rediscover her art, and heal in the pleasant town.
There’s just one problem… Shirly Pratt, Katelyn’s mother-in-law, is not ready to give up the only one that has cared for her in three years. Hijacking the road trip, she goes along to Texas all the while acting her domineering, manipulative self. As Katelyn finds herself again she has to face some hard truths and decide where her life is headed. The reappearance of her ex-boyfriend Jackson Mendoza doesn’t make things any easier as old feelings come back and she finds the new, more mature Jackson even more attractive. This is one woman’s quest for peace, happiness, and a future forward.
There was a lot I liked about this book. For the most part it was a sweet, fast read with an interesting premise and fantastic characters. On the other hand, I sometimes felt like I was being beaten over the head with things that got repeated perhaps too often. The mothers are polar opposites, I got that the first twelve times…. After a while it detracted from my enjoyment. I liked that Jackson was imperfect, fighting with his view of himself, being a recovering alcoholic, and trying to forge a relationship with the mother that left him and his father. He was an honestly good man that wanted the best for everyone else and I could not help but love him for that. All in all, I found the book enjoyable and would recommend it. Four stars!
On the Adult Content Scale, there’s some language and sexual content. I would give it a five.
Profile Image for Kathy .
3,320 reviews
September 5, 2017
4.5 stars.

The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas is a captivating novel of new beginnings and rediscovering one's self in the wake of divorce.

Katelyn Chandler Pratt is absolutely stunned when her husband Don unceremoniously divorces her after nineteen years of marriage. With her disagreeable mother-in-law Shirley in tow, Katelyn returns to her small hometown in Texas to regroup and spend some long overdue time with her mom, Birdie.  Having lost touch with her own hopes and goals in the process of raising her children and helping her soon to be ex-husband rise up the corporate ladder, Katelyn hopes to reignite her long neglected dream of becoming an artist.  Returning to her small town roots, Katelyn finds a new appreciation for the small town she once could not wait to leave behind while at the same time she discovers she still has feelings for her high school boyfriend Jackson Mendoza.  With her departure date fast approaching, Katelyn remains torn about what she wants for her future.

The only child of parents who struggled to make ends meet, Katelyn could not wait to forge a life far away from her small hometown. Meeting and marrying Don fulfilled her goal of financial security and she was quite content with her marriage until the day her husband decided to divorce her. As she spends time renewing her somewhat distant relationship with Birdie, Katelyn comes to quite a few realizations about herself and her marriage.  As she encourages her mother to pursue her long abandoned dream, will Katelyn take her own advice when it comes to her own dormant goal to become an artist?

Despite their ease in renewing their friendship, Jackson is uneasy about spending time with Katelyn. His life took a somewhat difficult turn after their breakup and while he has overcome his demons, he keeps to himself in order to avoid backsliding into old habits. Will these fears prevent Jackson from pursuing a relationship with Katelyn?

The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas is an engaging and thought-provoking journey of self-discovery.  With a cast of colorful and entertaining characters, a realistic storyline about returning to your roots and a sweet, understated romance, this charming novel will delight readers who enjoy contemporary women's fiction.
Profile Image for Jenny Houle.
877 reviews8 followers
September 5, 2017
I received a free ARC of this book from FirstToRead.com.

When Katelyn Chandler's husband has divorce papers delivered while he's traveling for business, she's caught entirely off guard. What's worse? She's stuck taking care of his cantankerous mother. She makes a hard choice to go visit her own mother in Little Springs, TX and Shirley (her mother-in-law) insists on tagging along for the ride.

While in Little Springs for what she thought would be a short stay, she realizes she walked away from a lot of things when she was in a hurry to get beyond what the small town had to offer. While she loves her children dearly, she has to face the fact that she may never have been in love with her soon to be ex-husband...and to make it more interesting, she may also have never stopped being in love with her high school sweetheart, Jackson, who just happens to still live in town.

Katelyn's journey home truly is to a future she left behind, though she wouldn't have known what she really wanted from life, what inspired and challenged her, had she not first gone after what she'd "thought" she'd wanted.

The cast of characters are well written, and many are more than a little amusing (remember the cantankerous mother-in-law who joined her for this trip?). The relationships between them all change throughout the book, and it's nice watching not only Katelyn grow, but those around her as well.
Profile Image for Coleen.
973 reviews48 followers
July 28, 2017
Ordinarily I would not read a 'romantic' type book unless it had some other factor that interested me. This one did. It involved a relationship between a woman and her mother-in- law. To add to the intrigue, the woman's husband 'surprises' her with a divorce after the husband had moved his mother in to live with them for several years.

The relationship was not an easy one, told mostly through the wife's side, Katelyn. I totally enjoyed that part of the story. I could see myself playing the part of the difficult, disagreeable mother-in-law, although I am older than Shirley and with younger grandkids. While this amusing and yet dramatic part of mother-in-law / daughter-in-law back and forth played throughout the book, another large part involved the typical, 'husband has cheated on wife and is leaving her for another woman", so wife - after basically a 5 minute anger spell - turns around to cheat on husband with an old flame from years ago. Not surprisingly, Husband, whom wife is 'defending' to her children so that her children can retain a good relationship with their father, [who does that?] then proceeds to inform the children of their mother's infidelity.

All's well, I guess, that ends well. And that is why I avoid the romances....But note that the author weaves a good tale and writes well!

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
Profile Image for Paula Pugh.
1,621 reviews6 followers
August 5, 2017
I really enjoyed this sweet story about a woman finding herself again after her unfaithful husband files for divorce, puts their house on the market, and tells her she'll be fine. Plus, he's saddled her with his mother, a critical, overbearing witch.
Katelyn thinks all is well in her marriage until her cheating husband drops the divorce bomb. She looks at her life and decides to go back to her home in Little Springs, Texas, a place she never wanted to go back to again. She has lost herself in the life she had, raising twins and a husband. Along the way, she also lost her art, the very thing that drove her away from Texas and was her lifelong dream. On a whim, she decides to let her cranky, critical mother-in-law, Shirley, accompany her on the long road trip.
Life for both the women changes drastically. Shirley finds friends in Birdie, Katelyn's mother, and in Birdie's unassuming group of friends. They think Shirley is a hoot! Plus she meets Vern, a widowed pastor who has on a leave of absence from his church since his wife died. Their match is adorable.
Katelyn runs into the boy she left behind, Jackson, and knows there is still something between them. Both of them are hesitant to pursue anything because of their own baggage and the future, if Katelyn leaves again.
All three women, including Birdie, find their inner self in ways they never would have imagined.
Profile Image for Vicki.
399 reviews30 followers
August 23, 2017
I really liked this book. Not my typical kind of read but enjoyed thoroughly.
Katelyn Pratt is married to a very successful business man, with 18 year old twins that have now gone out in the world for college. She still has the one person she doesn't like in her household, her 65 year old snobby Mother-in-Law. She's rude, constantly belittling Katelyn, and since her husband is traveling for work more often than not, Katelyn is left to take care of her.
Then after a day out at the salon while her MIL gets her hair permed, again, she comes home only to be served divorce papers.The house is being put on the market and he's made arrangements for his Mother to go into assisted living.
Katelyn decides she needs to go home to visit her Mom. Only problem is her MIL's apartment won't be ready for months. So she takes her home to her home town of Little Springs, TX. With 3000 residents, a small grocery store, and one home cooked restaurant, it is a shock to her MIL, who is snobby, used to the finer things in life, and downright rude. How will Katelyn ever survive the friction between her Mother and MIL.
This really was a laugh out loud book. Would definitely recommend! I received this from Furst to Read for my honest opinion. Thank you for allowing me to read it.
Profile Image for Kim.
680 reviews18 followers
November 21, 2017
This was a really nice read. It reminded me a little of Patty Jane's House of Curl, which is one of my favorite books. Katelyn discovers that her husband wants a divorce when she is served legal papers one morning out of the blue. Her bitter, complaining mother-in-law lives with her and Katelyn's first thought is "good riddance". But that is not the case; Katelyn's kind nature wins out and she and her MIL embark on an adventure home to Katelyn's mother and a small town in Texas.

When she was young, Katelyn left behind her hometown, her mother, her boyfriend because she wanted "the good life" she did not think she would be able to live in Texas. At first glance, it appears she made the right choice, but as time and the characters surrounding her reveal their true nature, Katelyn discovers that happiness is not found by having the best money can buy; it is found in little things done with heart and soul.

The book is sweet and easy to read, the language and situations are not unkind or full of dark tragedy, although the subject matter hints at the darkness of human nature. I am glad I was given the opportunity to read and review this book. It left me with a good feeling.
425 reviews3 followers
August 27, 2017
Katelyn left her small town roots in Little Springs, Texas after high school to pursue her passion for art. After meeting Don in college and marrying him, her passion got lost in the daily actions of raising children, keeping house and supporting Don in his career. As her twins are getting ready to start college, her husband blindsides her by having her served with divorce papers. Katelyn decides to go back to Little Springs to visit her mother and regroup; she didn’t plan on having her mother-in-law, who had been living with them, go with her. In Little Springs, she mediates battles between the two older women, gives her mother a break from work, finds out the guy she left behind is still there and finds her passion to draw and paint again. The Future She Left Behind is a wonderful story of love, support, small-town quirks; it has romance and lots of humor. I found it a very entertaining read and will definitely look forward to more from the author, Marin Thomas. Thanks to Penguin for the early read e-edition.
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