What the book is about:
Maisey Addington returns from Kansas City to her hometown of Colville after receiving a call about her mother having taken a fall and her father facing charges of abuse and neglect. The story opens with a scene from Maisey’s childhood and then jumps to the present day, where she is thrown from her usually disorganized mess of a life into needing to be a responsible adult for her somewhat-estranged parents, plus deal with complications from Greg, the father of her 12-year-old daughter Elle. There is also a minor romance line with a long-forgotten high school classmate, Tony.
What I liked:
- Marley – her storyline really grabbed me and actually haunted me a bit. I couldn’t shake her, and I kind of felt like the Grinch when his grows 3 sizes – I think my heart grew to accommodate her.
- Dad – He was a very sweet man (I’m trying not to give TOO much away here), and he felt somewhat realistic in his character development.
- The writing – The writing itself isn’t bad. It’s generally tight, cohesive – the pacing is quite good after about the first third of the book.
- The concept – The author tells us in the notes at the end that she wanted to explore why people don’t leave abusive relationships or what it would take for someone to leave, and in that way, it was really successful as an exploration.
What I didn’t like:
- The plot – The plot felt very predictable to me and I kept hoping for a really big twist, and it just never came. The first third of the book is pretty much all Maisey trying to figure out how to actually adult and dealing with lots of her issues. I struggled to connect with her (and never actually did), and I found it much too easy to put the book down until about chapter 11 or so. That’s when I really picked up pace reading and finished, but it took me a good four or five days to get to that spot.
- Overall character development – Most of the characters feel very flat. Each one of them is traumatized in one way or another and most of the book focuses on their inner reaction to their traumas. At times, it feels tedious and I wanted the action to pick back up. In the author’s notes at the end, she says this book is essentially an exploration of abusive relationships and what it takes to leave one. In that regard, I think the book was successful – it certainly explored various scenarios, but to me, it felt like TOO much. Too many bad relationships, so much unhealth, and it was an emotional downer.
- POV choices – There is a very minor romance line in the book and the author chooses to have several chapters in Tony’s POV. Everything in Maisey’s POV is 1st person present tense, but Tony’s is 3rd person. I found that very strange, and I also found the choice to give him his own chapter at chapter 10 to be strange. At that point, he was still a very minor character, and I didn’t understand the choice, except to speculate that he must become a love interest later in the book. However, that doesn’t happen for QUITE some time. Dad was a major character and I think if anyone deserved his own chapters, it was Dad, not Tony.
- The ending – I’ll try not to say too much here, but I felt that everything wrapped up a bit too neatly. Maisey finally realizes all the things, stands up to those she needs to, everything is restored with everybody – it didn’t feel real or earned to me.
- Dad – He struggles with confusion and/or dementia throughout the book, but comes to lucidity at all the right times, just in time to save Maisey from one thing or another. I found that to be a bit ludicrous and not real. There would be times where Maisey needed Dad to be lucid, but he’d still be in his vacant landscape, and those would have been much more interesting moments. Much of the tension that could have been built wasn’t because of those moments of everyone saving Maisey at the perfect time.
- Mom – Oh, mom. She was probably my least favorite of everyone. I never quite came around to connecting with her or understanding her. She wasted her entire life locking everybody out, and the big reveal at the end was lackluster, though it did provide the major backdrop of the entire book, and a particular part of that is what really grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go. It’s probably the mother in me. I can conceptually understand the entrapment she felt and the bravery it took to make the decisions she made, but I felt so frustrated that she never let anyone in, but instead psychologically damaged her entire family.
Overall thoughts and opinions:
The book was okay. Not terrible, but not great either. I read the whole thing. It didn’t take me a day, nor did it take me a month. So, a solid okay. I’d consider it fine for some light reading, if you can let some of the unrealness slide a bit.
I did not connect with Maisey in the least. She kind of irritated me throughout the book, but it could simply be her personality that drives me a bit crazy. Her 12-year-old daughter is constantly more mature than she is and makes better decisions, but I suppose if you grow up with a mom like Maisey, you kind of have to be the adult around her.
I found Marley to be a much more interesting character in the few chapters we finally get to meet her, and I wish I wish I WISH she would have been around more. Marley probably deserved a few of her own chapters, too. I can see where she gets her warped view and so I can accept that given the life she’s lived, but a few things at the end don’t make sense to me, but I haven’t lived her life with her father in that situation, so it is what it is.
Overall, I found myself a bit frustrated with the book and mildly annoyed at certain choices the author made – mostly in the structure of the storytelling – but I liked the writing and the concept. I found myself rolling my eyes in certain places and was disappointed by the predictability of it. I wouldn’t read it again, but I’d probably recommend that anyone who has suffered in an abusive relationship read it, just because I think they would be able to connect with these characters better.
Factoring everything together, I give the book 3 stars.
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