So when I found out that Tracey had another book coming out my reaction was probably a bit like this.
It’s no secret how much I loved On The Island… but then I got the warning… “It’s women’s fiction, so keep that in mind.” and I was all, well what the hell is women’s fiction… I’m a woman, I like fiction… why wouldn’t I like this book?
And I will freely admit that in between staring at the cover and fawning all over how pretty it is, I read the summary. And my heart skipped a beat and I told my BFF that ‘omg this one might hurt me.’ But I dove into it. And I didn’t put it down except to cook meals and tend to my child. And it did hurt… not like gut wrenching OMG TRACEY HOW COULD YOU kind of pain, but little twinges here and there that all add up to a sort of broken feeling that you don’t know how to fix.
What I found is that this story isn’t just for women or just people who have been in relationships or married for many years. As someone who’s never ever been married I can tell you I felt every little slight or pain that Claire did.
Claire has been married for years. Two kids, a nice house in a wonderful neighborhood, a dog, and a husband who takes care of them…. that is until he loses his job and their life comes to a screeching halt. Oh the first few months aren’t bad, it’s when Chris starts to think he won’t ever be able to take care of his family again when things take a turn for the worse for them. Luck finally turns for Chris and he’s offered a job, but it means he’ll be on the road for 4 out of 5 days a week. Claire struggles with the idea that the mess that their marriage is right now will survive him not being there.
The kids are a safe topic, and politely exchanging information regarding their whereabouts and well-being has become our fallback method of communication. Neither of us raises our voice. I once read an article in a women’s magazine that said it’s a really bad sign when you and your spouse stop arguing. It means that you’ve given up and no longer care about saving your marriage. I hope that’s not true, but I worry that it probably is.
A chance traffic stop for Claire brings someone new into her life, someone who’s taken an interest in her and what’s going on in her life and someone who actually pays attention. She’s been lonely and Daniel Rush suddenly fills that void.
The friendship between Daniel and Claire is gradual. Chance encounters and a job opportunity for Claire bring them together but then they eventually find themselves seeking each other out.
Daniel himself has lost quite a bit in the past few years, and as his story unfolds you can see why and how he would reach out to Claire even knowing that she is married. Neither one of them had or have bad intentions and in fact they both come clean up front… they are just looking for friendship.
Which then brings up the age-old question… Can men and women just be friends? Which I think in this situation becomes a very complicated situation.
What I loved about this story is that it isn’t just about Claire. Yes, she’s our main heroine and I think the person we’re meant to connect with the most, but we also get to see little bits from both Daniel and Chris’s point of view. I’d read how lonely and sad Claire was that her husband wasn’t home or that he didn’t get a chance to call and be shaking my fist at him mentally saying “see it’s your fault this is happening!” but then in his point of view we’d see how much he loves Claire and how hard he’s working just to make sure his family has an income and the life he want’s for them and he missed them profoundly.
Remember that perfect neighborhood they live in… well it’s not so perfect. And I think that something this book reminded me is that things may look perfect and wonderful on the outside, but underneath that false image there can be a lot of pain and quite a few secrets and while we may be jealous of the life that someone might have, we certainly don’t know exactly what their struggles are.
We’re the Cantons. Sun-kissed, all-American, picture-perfect. By all appearances, we’re the ideal suburban family.
As long as you don’t look too closely.
In the end, I loved the evolution of this story. The sneaks we would get of Claire remembering the months that Chris was out of work and how the stress impacted them not only as a couple, but also as family really pulled me in, but we also got glimpses of what their life was before he lost his job… how they met, how they connected … how happy they were. Which made the current stuff so hard to swallow and accept.
I know the big question everyone is going to have is OMG IS THERE CHEATING??? I don’t honestly know how to answer that…
If you’re looking for a story filled with action and some major big reveal or something, this isn’t going to be it. Life isn’t all explosions and fireworks – Instead what you’ll get is incredible writing, wonderful dialogue and a story that feels true to life and like it might have happened to any of my neighbors if I looked close enough.
The characters are easily relatable and incredibly realistic and I think that is what reached out and grabbed a hold of me most with this story.
If you don’t have this book on your ‘to read’ list yet, I can’t stress how much you need to put it there. And not just you women either. Anyone who needs a life lesson in not taking things and people in our lives for granted could definitely get something out of this story.
Thank you to Dutton & Tracey for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
**please note that the quotes used here are from an advance copy and could change.**