This is a love story in the midst of moments of tragedy and comedy, and a damn fine read. Not many books make me cry, but there was more than one moment that I had tears in my eyes.
The Day We Met centers around Claire, who has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's while in her early 40's, although the story is told from several perspectives. There is also Greg, her current husband of only a couple years; her oldest daughter, Caitlin, who is twenty; and her mother, Ruth, who has moved in with them to care for Claire and Claire's youngest daughter, Esther. The story marches backwards and forwards in time, revealing snippets of the past that are slowly fading from Claire's memory as the Alzheimer's grows more pronounced.
In addition to the problem of Claire's disease, the main characters also face personal crises of their own. Caitlin has secrets she is hiding from her family, Ruth lost Claire's father the same way she is losing Claire and seems unable to let go of her anger at the situation, and Claire herself meets a strange man who seems to understand her in a way that Greg is increasingly unable to. As she and her family struggle to come to grips with the disease that is defining her days, Claire tries to find out who she is in the midst of losing what she thought has always defined her life.
This is a beautiful and touching story, and I would definitely recommend it. As soon as I am done writing this post, I am off to pick up more books by Ms. Coleman!
The kids and I have been feeling a little under the weather, so I haven't been posting reviews recently. But I've still been reading, so I have a backlog of reviews to write. One book that I read this past week was The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel, and I must say that I really enjoyed it.
It starts out with the main character, Kate, looking back twelve years to when she was newly married to Patrick, the love of her life. The story begins when he's late coming home and they have a fight. The next day, he goes to work - but he never makes it, as he is in a car accident and dies. Fast forward to the present time and her engagement to her new boyfriend, Dan. Life seems to be going great for her again until she starts having dreams about her ex-husband and the life they could have been leading.
All these elements could be cliché. Heck, they are, even I will admit that. But Harmel handles the scenes without a maudlin air, and makes the story and the characters feel real. The characters make bad decisions and they aren't always perfect, but I was drawn completely into the story. What's amazing is the main character's occupation is as a music therapist to kids, especially disabled kids, and it felt as if the author must have been involved in that world also, since the details are so seamlessly incorporated into the narrative. However, reading Harmel's notes at the end, I was startled to learn that she'd created these characters' occupations all by research. One would never know when reading the book.
This is a romance, but romance is not really the only theme of the book, nor necessarily the conclusion the main character comes to at the end. Her ex-husband, the love of her life, IS dead, and she has to come to terms with that - but, in doing so, she realizes that there are many types of love, not all of them the ones she initially thinks are important. I would definitely recommend this book, and I plan on picking up Harmel's first book, The Sweetness of Forgetting.
I must start off this review by saying that my husband is a huge sports fan, but I am not. I enjoy watching baseball or basketball once in a while and have even been to a game or two, but I probably couldn't name five players on a team to save my life. But I will say the one sport I dislike above all others - ALL others - is football.
So it was a bit of a surprise to find out how much I enjoyed Emily Giffin's The One & Only. The title is somewhat cheesy and maybe a bit too lighthearted to sum up the heart of the book, but the book itself is fantastic. It's a romance that starts out with a funeral (cheery, eh?). Shea's best friend's mother has died of cancer, leaving her BF, Lucy, understandably devastated. They live in Walker, Texas, which is home to the number-one college football team coached by Lucy's father, Clive Carr. Shea has football in her blood and idolizes Coach Carr, to the point where she even works with him in the sports department of the university and is currently dating one of his ex-football players. But the death of her friend's mother shakes up her life and makes her see that the easy way she has always taken in life by blindly following her hero may not be what she really needs.
Not only is Giffin's writing style compelling, but the level of sports detail incorporated seamlessly into the narrative really is impressive. Also, Giffin deals well with some pretty heavy issues, including personal loss and abusive relationships. While there are some lighter parts to the book, I wouldn't necessarily call this a light romance at all. If you're looking for a story that has realistic characters who don't always make the right choices, but still leaves you cheering for them in the end, then this book is for you.
I've been reading some heavier literary books recently, so I felt like delving into some lighter ones to get a bit of balance. So I picked up Don't Want to Miss a Thing by Jill Mansell. I've read some of her other books over the years - Thinking of You, A Walk in the Park, Nadia Knows Best, and To the Moon and Back, so I knew what I was in for - and I wasn't disappointed. Mansell writes romances set in the U.K. that are funny and often a bit whimsical, and her characters are not often picture-perfect romantic leads, but ones that feel like real people living ordinary lives (with a few twists thrown in for fun).
In Don't Want to Miss a Thing, the main character is Dexter Yates - charming, handsome, and living the high life in London. But when his sister dies, leaving behind his eight-month-old niece Delphi, Dexter learns what it means to stand up for his family in the most essential way possible. He decides to leave the rat race behind and move to a small village in the Cotswolds to raise her, where a number of women are only too willing to help him out. There's Amanda, the charming village doctor, Molly, a cartoonist who's his next door neighbor, and Frankie, a newly single mother who discovered her husband has been leading a double life.
While there's an essential format to romances that is formulaic - you can't get past the boy meets girl (or girl meets girl or boy meets boy), Mansell's book takes the reader on a few twists and turns and has lively characters. Her writing style is very engaging, and she deals with sometimes very serious issues in a compelling way. For fans of romantic comedies, I'd definitely recommend this book.
There's definitely a lot to like about this book. It's a story about five college friends who have turned thirty and found out that their lives are not where they expected. The main character, Ben, is in the middle of a divorce with his wife, Sarah. Lindsey, whom Ben has loved since college, is a temp worker whose life lacks anything permanent, carrying over to her relationships. Alison has put her personal life on hold for ten years, since she's been in love with Jack the whole time, who is now a big-shot movie star with a serious coke addition. Chuck is still the class clown whom none of the friends take seriously, although he is currently a highly respected doctor.
The characters are complex but likable, and a story that could be full of clichés has only one or two to hold it up. The writing style draws the reader in and keeps the reader zigzagging between sympathy for the characters and laughter at their crazy antics.
There's only one part of the book that made me go: "Whaaaat?" One of the main characters is a player, who picks up random women from bars for one-night stands. One of the women he picks up lies about her age - she is still in high school and under 18 years old. Ben, the main character, finds out about this and chooses not to tell anyone about what he has found out. I kept on waiting for consequences for the characters because of this statuary rape, but nothing happens in the book - the characters just keep on doing their thing, and this part of the storyline goes nowhere. So it left me with a bit of an icky feeling. This isn't the only instance when the main characters do something highly illegal in the book that turns out "all right" in the end, so it left me with the idea of a pattern of "do anything and it'll be okay." I wasn't too keep on that part of the story.
***END SPOILER ALERT***
Other than that, I enjoyed the book and would probably pick up another one from Jonathan Tropper.
I read a lot - depending on my writing schedule, I can usually read about a book a day. Some of the books are fantastic and I would love to recommend to everyone - some, not so much. Either way, I thought I would share a few thoughts on what I'm reading at the moment.