All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

All Fall DownAll Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
Published by Atria Books
Review copy provided by Netgalley

From the publisher:

Allison Weiss is a typical working mother, trying to balance a business, aging parents, a demanding daughter, and a marriage. But when the website she develops takes off, she finds herself challenged to the point of being completely overwhelmed. Her husband’s becoming distant, her daughter’s acting spoiled, her father is dealing with early Alzheimer’s, and her mother’s barely dealing at all. As she struggles to hold her home and work life together, and meet all of the needs of the people around her, Allison finds that the painkillers she was prescribed for a back injury help her deal with more than just physical discomfort—they help her feel calm and get her through her increasingly hectic days. Sure, she worries a bit that the bottles seem to empty a bit faster each week, but it’s not like she’s some Hollywood starlet partying all night, or a homeless person who’s lost everything. It’s not as if she has an actual problem.

However, when Allison’s use gets to the point that she can no longer control—or hide—it, she ends up in a world she never thought she’d experience outside of a movie theater: rehab. Amid the teenage heroin addicts, the alcoholic grandmothers, the barely-trained “recovery coaches,” and the counselors who seem to believe that one mode of recovery fits all, Allison struggles to get her life back on track, even as she’s convincing herself that she’s not as bad off as the women around her.

Jennifer Weiner is one of my go-to authors – as soon as I know she has a new book out, I’m on it. It was obvious to me that I would read All Fall Down no matter what I heard about it, but the fact that I’ve heard nothing but good things didn’t hurt. I’m happy to say that this novel falls within the range of some of her very best books, and its darker, more serious edge makes it a little different from what she usually does. It’s always fun when a much-beloved author switches things up a bit, especially when the change is for the better.

When a book focuses almost exclusively on one main character, and that character makes deplorable choices, it can be tricky for an author to get the reader to connect to the character and make the reader interested enough in the character’s journey to keep reading. Well, apparently this is not very tricky for Weiner because she nailed it. While Allison is selfish and so deep in her addiction she barely registers the needs of those around her (including her own child), I couldn’t help but root for her to get better. Watching her self-destruct and spiral down into a haze of pain pills was heartbreaking but I continued to hope for the best and have the belief that she would eventually snap out of it and realize the damage she was causing to herself and everyone who loved her.

Another thing Weiner totally nailed is addiction itself. I know exactly how, to the addict, the only thing that matters is the next fix, how the addicted brain is convinced that if only you get one more fix, the next day is the day you will easily quit, easily give up the addiction for the happy life you are desperate for. But the next morning, you wake up, need another fix, and the cycle starts over again. Weiner completely got this. Allison’s life was a vicious cycle of taking too many pills, deciding to quit, and taking too many pills again.

Allison’s journey to healing was done so well, too. Addiction is messy and scary and sad and heartbreaking and Weiner got all of that, but she also got how hopeful and beautiful recovery can be. I believed in Allison, in her ability to get better, in the hope and promise that her future held, and I believed that she saw that too. She was incredibly realistic, which made her recovery that much better and more exciting for this reader.

All Fall Down is Jennifer Weiner at her best. Highly recommended.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One Plus OneOne Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Published by Pamela Dorman Books
Review copy provided by Netgalley

From the publisher:

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again.

This is my third time reading a Jojo Moyes novel (but I do want to read her backlist, I swear) and every time I read one of her books, I’m in awe of her remarkable talent. I literally can NOT stop reading once I’ve started one of her novels. I don’t know what her magic is, exactly, just that she creates characters and situations and dialogue and relationships that are so incredibly easy to relate to and everything just clicks for me.

One Plus One is no different. I loved Jess and I couldn’t help but admire her tenacity and positive spirit, her belief that good people eventually get good things, and that if you just work hard, it will (some day) pay off. I wished she had been a little less naive about her husband – but it did match her personality, because if he’d been a bad person, he would eventually get what’s coming to him, right? In the meantime, she focused on what she could control – and that was being good to him and keeping things together for the children.

Enter Ed – a guy with issues of his own, a selfish person who has lived most of his life thinking only of himself. But for some reason, meeting Jess inspires him to act outside of himself for once and his inner nice guy rises to the surface. I liked Ed, too, but he frustrated me a bit, as he was naive about his own problems and had a lot of trouble taking ownership for the things he created in his own life. Still, it was enjoyable to see him finding his way and growing up emotionally to face the punishment that he rightfully deserved.

The story of how this unlikely pair, along with Jess’s two kids and dog, take a crazy road trip to Scotland is one you just have to experience to understand its beauty. Moyes is just as fantastic as ever and I absolutely loved this novel. Highly, highly recommended.

The Lovebird by Natalie Brown

The LovebirdThe Lovebird by Natalie Brown
Published by Doubleday
Unsolicited review copy provided by the publisher

From the publisher:

Margie Fitzgerald has always had a soft spot for helpless creatures. Her warm heart breaks, her left ovary twinges, and Margie finds herself smitten with sympathy. This is how Margie falls in love with her Latin professor, a lonely widower and single father who trembles visibly in class. This is how Margie joins a band of ragtag student activists called H.E.A.R.T. (Humans Encouraging Animal Rights Today) in liberating lovebirds from their pet-store cages. And this is how Margie becomes involved in a plan so dangerous, so reckless, and so illegal, that she must flee her California college town, cut off contact with her dear old dad, and start fresh in a place unlike anywhere she has ever been. Introducing one of the most unforgettable heroines in recent fiction, The Lovebird is a novel about a girl who can’t abandon a lost cause, who loves animals, and who must travel to the loneliest place on earth to figure out where she really belongs.

From time to time I can be a shallow reader and decide to read books because of the cover alone – which is exactly what I did in this case. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from this gorgeous cover, and so I picked up the book and began reading, knowing exactly nothing about what I’d find within the pages.

Imagine my happy surprise upon learning how wonderful The Lovebird is! Admittedly, the beginning is a bit slow and Margie makes a lot of incredibly stupid choices that have enormously bad repercussions – sleeping with her professor only the first in a long list. What bothered me the most about her relationship with her professor was not the relationship itself, but it was that he had a young daughter, a girl who’d already lost her mother, and this girl was now getting emotionally attached to Margie, only to see her father’s relationship with Margie eventually come to its inevitable end – it was just sad! Don’t bring kids into something like that, people!

Anyway, that’s really only a small part in a story about Margie’s growth as a person and as a woman in a scary and confusing time in her life. She literally has to run from the law, and hide from the authorities in a remote Native American reservation, living among complete strangers, some of whom really, really don’t want her there. She’s a shy and quiet person who has gone through life latching onto people and causes and matching her own personality to those around her – and now, in this isolated town, she must find a way to become herself, to figure out what kind of person she wants to be in the world and work toward becoming that person.

The Lovebird is kind of a love story, but it’s more a coming-of-age story, and within its pages are sordid relationships, violence, animal activism, deep sadness but true reawakening of people’s spirits. This is a quiet novel but don’t let that scare you – there’s real depth of emotion here, real people figuring out life, as messy as that can be. And it’s very beautifully written. I really enjoyed it.

That Night by Chevy Stevens

That NightThat Night by Chevy Stevens
Published by St. Martin’s Press
Review copy provided by SheReads

From the publisher:

As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent
complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.

I was a huge fan of Stevens’ first novel, Still Missing, but was less than thrilled with her second, Never Knowing, and didn’t even bother with her third. So I have to admit that I went into this novel with a bit of trepidation. But I have to say, That Night really impressed me – she’s completely back to the place she was at for her first novel, and I might have even liked this one better than Still Missing.

The thing about this book is that you go into it knowing that you have an unreliable narrator on your hands. Toni’s past isn’t the best, she’s made some serious mistakes, and the love of her life, Ryan, could possibly be a shady character. We have Toni’s memories, which color everything in her favor, although she does admit to being somewhat of a troubled teenager, and then we have the people around her who assumed she and Ryan were guilty based on their preconceived ideas of what kinds of people they were.

Even though I knew I couldn’t trust Toni, I wanted so desperately to believe her from the very beginning. I just couldn’t let myself believe that she would do such a horrible thing and I had my fingers crossed throughout the entire novel for her to find the real killer and get the opportunity to clear her name. I kept going back and forth in my mind as to whether I could really trust her story or if she was playing me, the reader, for a fool the whole time. The book takes a ton of twists and turns and while I didn’t guess the ending, it was one of those “aha” moments for me and things finally clicked into place. It made so much sense and I loved how Stevens took me on this wild ride and delivered a shocking, but perfect, answer to all of the questions I had along the way.

I’m not sure that Stevens meant for this to happen, but That Night does an excellent job showing just how difficult it is for ex-cons to make any kind of lives for themselves after their sentences are over. Also, it illuminates the fact that once you are labeled something in life, it’s extremely difficult to get out from under that label and make something of yourself. Every single time Toni had something good going for her, her past would rear its ugly head and find a way to drag her down. People would frame her for things and accuse her of things, and immediately it was assumed she was guilty because of her past. It made me stop and think – this is how we treat people who have been convicted of crimes, or even suspected of crimes – crimes they may not have even committed. I know this is a thriller and not a social commentary, but it was a surprisingly interesting element of the novel for me.

Anyway, I was thoroughly impressed with That Night and I’m once again a fan of Chevy Stevens. Highly recommended!

The Never Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller

The Never Never SistersThe Never Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller
Published by NAL Trade
Unsolicited review copy provided by the publisher

From the publisher:

Marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt is counting down the days to summer, eager to reconnect with her workaholic husband at their cozy rental cottage in the Hamptons. But soon a mysterious crisis at Dave’s work ruins their getaway plans. Paige is still figuring out how to handle the unexplained chill in her marriage when her troubled sister suddenly returns after a two-decade silence. Now, instead of enjoying the lazy summer days along the ocean, Paige is navigating the rocky waters of a forgotten bond with her sister in the sweltering city heat.

As she attempts to dig deeper into Dave’s work troubles and some long-held family secrets, Paige is shocked to discover how little she knows about the people closest to her. This summer, the self-proclaimed relationship expert will grapple with her biggest challenge yet: Is it worth risking your most precious relationships in order to find yourself?

This novel appealed to me because I find myself attracted to books about sibling relationships, although to be honest I can’t think of a ton in recent memory that have actually done the complicated relationship between sisters justice. The Never Never Sisters comes pretty close to one of the best I’ve read in that aspect in the past few years. The sisters in this book are basically strangers when the book begins, but over time they get to know each other and end up pretty close by the end of the novel. While Paige’s relationship with her estranged sister is the focus of a lot of the novel, there are lots more issues happening here too – issues in her marriage, rocky relationships with her parents, and even the issues that her clients are facing come up throughout the novel. But although there’s a lot here, it never feels bogged down with all the issues. Instead, Heller handles each of these things with respect and unfolds the story and its issues out for the reader slowly, in a way that gets the reader more and more invested in Paige and her life as the book progresses.

I could really sympathize with Paige in her dealings with her estranged sister. My sister and I are about as opposite as two people can be, and for many years we didn’t get along well at all. We just didn’t get each other whatsoever. That all changed when my niece was born and my sister and I developed a bond unlike anything we’d shared in our lives up to that point, but all that being said, I completely understood Paige’s struggles to understand her sister and empathize with her. The two of them were just SO different, and they had such different life experiences because of the large age gap between them, it was a miracle they managed to find a way to connect at all. It was emotionally rewarding for me to read as the two of them knit their lives and personalities together in such a way that they came to truly understand and love each other.

The Never Never Sisters was the kind of book I really couldn’t put down. I truly found all of the complicated relationships and dramas to be incredibly compelling, and I was so invested in Paige that I absolutely needed to find out how things would end up for her. There’s a lot Paige discovers about her family, her marriage, and herself, and it was truly an enjoyable experience for me to be on this journey with her. Highly recommended.

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

The Aviator's WifeThe Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
Published by Delacorte Press
Review copy received at SIBA 2012

From the publisher:

For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong.

Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. Hounded by adoring crowds and hunted by an insatiable press, Charles shields himself and his new bride from prying eyes, leaving Anne to feel her life falling back into the shadows. In the years that follow, despite her own major achievements—she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States—Anne is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.

There has been a recent trend in books over the past several years of historical fiction featuring the wives of prominent historical figures, and The Aviator’s Wife is one more shining example of how fun that trend can be. Truthfully, I didn’t know much about Charles Lindbergh before picking up this novel (just that he was a famous aviator who broke some records and that his baby was kidnapped), but now I not only know a ton about Lindbergh, but I feel that I intimately understand his life as seen through the (fictionalized version) eyes of his wife, Anne.

I got deeply involved with this book from the first page. I was drawn to Anne immediately – although she’d always been seen as secondary to her beautiful and popular older sister, I liked her intelligence, her ability to see people for their true selves, and her adventurous spirit, which are three qualities that drew Lindbergh to her as well. From their first meeting, Anne and Charles are like two peas in a pod, they can trust no one else and although their lives are scrutinized by the press and they are stalked constantly by the paparazzi, they find solace in each other and are able to escape from the craziness only when it is just the two of them alone in the air together. I loved the way their relationship would change, especially in the early years, when they were flying together – it was this thing that they shared and that no one could take away from them.

Unfortunately, their marriage was rocky and Charles wasn’t necessarily the nicest person to be around. He was moody, dark, and didn’t always share his thoughts and feelings with Anne. And what he did share, oftentimes were simply commands, things that she was expected to do as his wife, no arguments allowed. Benjamin illuminated for the reader both the highs and the lows of their marriage and, despite everything, showed that in the end there was a fierce love shared between the two of them even when Anne finally found the independence she so fought for throughout her marriage and her life.

I really enjoyed this book and have to say that I appreciated the mix between history and fiction that Benjamin brought to it. I loved learning about the Lindberghs and Benjamin told their story in a compelling and entertaining way. Anne Lindbergh’s life was incredibly sad at times, as she dealt with the debilitating loss of a child and a controlling, sometimes cruel husband, but she also deeply loved her husband and children and created a true legacy of her own as a female aviator. I highly recommend The Aviator’s Wife as an excellent piece of historical fiction.

The Fever by Megan Abbott

The FeverThe Fever by Megan Abbott
Published by Little, Brown, and Company
Review copy provided by Netgalley

From the publisher:

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

When a book is just okay for me, but there are aspects of greatness within, I will almost always pick up another book by that author to see if it was just that particular novel or if it’s the author in general I’m just not a fan of. In the case of Megan Abbott, after reading The Fever, I can definitely say it’s the author’s style that doesn’t click with me. I read The End of Everything a couple of years ago and just didn’t get it … and now, with The Fever, same experience. But let me start with what I DO like about this author.

She totally, completely, gets teen girls. She gets their cliquiness, their bullying, their complicated relationships with their families, each other, and themselves. She gets self-loathing and self-doubt, she gets the weird mix of overconfidence and insecurity that the most popular girls typically have, she just understands them and can write them amazingly well. She also gets how communities can be so deeply affected by what’s happening to the children within that community, how communities can rally around kids in trouble, and at the same time come together to shun the “bad” kids in the mix. She is also an excellent writer. Her writing is taught and careful, never using too many words or flowery language, describing everything perfectly with spot-on dialogue.

With all that being said, you’d think I absolutely loved The Fever, right? Unfortunately, and I can’t do a great job of explaining why, but I just did not. Ultimately I didn’t connect to any of the characters, I felt like they were being kept at arm’s length from me the entire time, and the terror and panic that these families were feeling just didn’t resonate in my heart. It’s like my brain enjoyed the book but my emotions didn’t care for it. Also the ending felt very anti-climactic – the whole book was built around this strange affliction that the girls were dealing with, and when the cause was finally revealed, it was like … meh.

On the surface, Megan Abbott is a great author and I’m happy to recommend her writing and the way she is able to create believable troubled teen girls. But for me personally, her books are just okay, and now that I’ve read two of them I can say that for certain this author is one that I won’t be going back to.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

The Twelve Tribes of HattieThe Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
Published by Knopf
Unsolicited review copy provided by the publisher

From the publisher:

In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a few pennies could have prevented.  Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises with grit and mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave.  She vows to prepare them for the calamitous difficulty they are sure to face in their later lives, to meet a world that will not love them, a world that will not be kind. Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage and the journey of a nation. 

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is more a series of linked short stories than a novel, and while I don’t experience books like this too often, I almost always enjoy them when I do. This book was no different – I enjoyed it tremendously and the format of linked short stories was a fantastic way to tell the story of Hattie’s life through her children.

Even though the book is ostensibly about Hattie’s children, it turns out that their stories just serve as a vehicle for the reader to get to know this family overall, and to get to know Hattie better and more clearly as each story goes on. The book begins with Hattie losing her firstborn twins, at a time when she is very young, poor, and married to a man she hardly knows. This loss absolutely rocked Hattie to her core, and although she had nine more children, the loss of those twins was something she felt deep in her soul every minute of every day for her entire life.

Hattie broke my heart because after the loss of her twins, she wasn’t able to love the rest of her kids in the same way. It was almost like she wanted to show them that love and affection that she knew they deserved, but she kept them at arm’s length – for fear they’d leave her too, or to teach them the harsh ways of the world, I’m not really sure – and every one of the children suffered in some way because of her inability to give them what they craved from her.

Mathis is an excellent story-teller, and although she tells the story of this family in a nonlinear fashion, the format really worked for me. The reader gets a fully realized picture of this entire family by the time the book is through, and it became kind of a game for me to make connections between characters as the chapters went on – figuring out the birth order, who got along with which of their siblings, who was still living at home when certain events took place, things like that. The writing is effective, and while Mathis doesn’t use flowery language, her prose is very beautiful at times.

I really enjoyed The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. While it’s on the slim side, the connected short stories really worked for me and I felt deeply for the main character and her children. I connected with them in a way that was unexpected, given the nonlinear format of the book. Definitely give it a try if you like unconventional story-telling, fantastic characters, and an emotional story.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were LiarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published by Delacorte Press
Review copy provided by Netgalley

From the publisher:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
 
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

There have been MANY reviews for this one popping up over the last couple of weeks, and I’m going to echo what a lot of people said when I tell you that I truly don’t want to tell you anything about this book. I went into it knowing nothing but the above summary and while I spent the first half of the book mostly confused but also intrigued, as the novel went on I grew more and more invested in the story and couldn’t put it down. By the time it was over, I was feeling so emotional that I couldn’t pick up another book right away. Yes, it’s that kind of book – the one that forces you to take a reading break in order to digest everything and move on.

We Were Liars is packed full of stuff that’s ripe for discussion but unfortunately, I’d rather not discuss it here until you read it. It would be perfect for a book club as there is just SO MUCH to talk about.

Just read it. You won’t be sorry.

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

A Land More Kind Than HomeA Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Published by William Morrow
Review copy received at SIBA 2012

From the publisher:

For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can’t help sneaking a look at something he’s not supposed to—an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess’s. It’s a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he’s not prepared. While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.

I had been planning on reading this book for YEARS before I picked it up. Literally, years – everyone raved about it when it was published in January 2012, and then at SIBA later that year I picked up a copy of the ARC for the paperback release. I finally got to it last month and while I’m glad I read it, I think I built it up in my head too much and anticipated an incredible novel, and it just didn’t wow me.

Let’s start with what I did like, though. Jess was an exceptional narrator, and I was blown away by how well Cash was able to narrate from the point of view of a preteen boy. What’s so interesting about Jess’s narration is that he’s very innocent, and doesn’t quite get what’s going on with the adults around him – until things become too clear for him at too young an age and he’s forced to grow up really fast. I was fascinated by his abrupt transition into adulthood, but at the same time it was incredibly sad to read as the reasons why this happens to him are heartbreaking.

I also found Cash to be very talented at creating multiple narrators with very distinct voices. Jess, the town midwife Adelaide, and the sheriff Clem all narrate several chapters of the book, and it was so easy to know exactly who was talking every time the narration switched. Also, having these three very different points of view gave the reader a really solid picture of what was going on in this town – and who was on which side of it.

The main issue I had with A Land More Kind Than Home is not a specific issue at all, actually. I liked the book well enough but it just didn’t have that special something to wow me. The characters were good, the story was interesting, the setting was well-drawn, but I just didn’t connect emotionally to the story. And this is a very emotional story, so I should have felt that connection. It was probably just me and my too-high expectations, but sadly I didn’t fall in love with this novel the way that a lot of other bloggers seemed to.

But again, I liked the book! So don’t take my lack of love as a sign of a bad novel. In fact, many readers have adored this book and Cash’s more recent novel, too. So if the story sounds interesting to you, give it a try and let me know your thoughts if you do!