As someone who has battled their weight for as long as they can remember, this book hit very close to home. I think I experienced every emotion possible while reading it. I laughed; it’s Kristan Higgins, after all. I cried – happy and sad tears, and then happy again. But it was more than just an “enjoyable read”. At times it was uncomfortable because it was truthful.
Have I ever hated the way I look? Everyday. Have I ever hated myself for not being strong enough? Too many times. Have I been the recipient of nasty comments about my weight? Yes, and I can remember dreaming of the day when I’d have lost the extra weight and be able to do the things my “skinny” friends could do, just like Georgia, Marley, and Emerson.
I loved this book not just because it was well written, and funny at times, but also because I could relate to these women and their hopes and dreams and fears and struggles. I cried reading Emerson’s passages, especially knowing she died because of complications from her weight. And yes, that also scared me…but in a good way. There’s still time for me. Still hope.
This book is so much more than just the back cover copy. It’s a book about family, friendship, and discovering your true worth. It’s about standing up for yourself, accepting your flaws (and no, I’m not talking about the weight issue…more about the lack of self-confidence) and loving yourself for who you are or who someone else is, it’s about seeing past the exterior and to the good stuff underneath…the heart and soul. It’s also about letting the past go and embracing the future.
It’s a story that will stay in my heart, and will remind me that I am more than what I see in the mirror, that I am smart, caring, funny (at times), intelligent and worth it.
Thank you to Berkeley for the advanced copy.
All We Knew by Jamie Beck
Once again, Jamie Beck has delivered a well-written, emotional, heartbreaking and beautiful story of love, life and loss.
In the second installment of the Cabots we learn more about Sara and Hunter Cabot; both very likable characters that have hopes, dreams, flaws and a lot of love for each other. One of the things I love about Jamie’s books is that she tackles real-life obstacles like letting work take over your life, losing yourself in your own pain, and failing to communicate with those most important to you.
I always hear people say, “If they’d just talked, none of this would have been an issue.” Well, yeah, that’s true. Sadly, it’s a problem a lot of people have. We’re afraid to open up, to let even those we love see our deepest, darkest dreams and fears, and Sara and Hunter are no different.
Plus, there’s life getting in the way and wearing you down and Sara and Hunter have plenty going on with their struggle to have a child, complicated family dynamics, being torn in multiple directions, and watching their dreams slip away. No wonder at times they’re short tempered and impatient with the other, not to mention focused on different priorities. There were a couple of instances where I wanted to reach out and slap both of them. People can be so stubborn and close-minded. At the same time, I totally got it…life is not easy.
Yet even when I thought all hope was lost and my heart was broken beyond repair for these two, Jamie Beck gave me hope. Sara and Hunter truly love each other. They’re good people, they just need to grow and learn that life requires flexibility.
I smiled. I laughed. I cried, all the while rooting for these two and that love would win in the end. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a complex, well-layered story with rounded characters that you can relate to.
THE GREAT ALONE, a must read.
I’ve been meaning to read Kristan Hannah for some time. She’s been highly recommended to me by several friends. I can see why after reading THE GREAT ALONE.
This book hit all the feels for me. And how could it not? A veteran, broken, struggling, suffering from PTSD and the darkness that lurks deep in his soul, threatening to take over. A woman who loves him too much to leave, who lives on hope and faith and in fear. A young girl caught in the middle, struggling to make sense of it all, while falling in love for the first time.
The book is set in the 1970s in Alaska and its one of the things that first caught my attention, as I lived in Alaska during that time. Kristan Hannah took me on a sweet, wonderful trip to the past. Reading THE GREAT ALONE took me back to the summer of endless days and dark, cold winters. Her descriptions of the Kenai Peninsula didn’t so much paint a picture for me, as it transported me across time and space. Once again I was a young girl picking the biggest and sweetest blueberries I’d ever had. And yes, those mosquitoes! The Alaskan state bird. :-)
But it was more than the trip down memory lane that drew me in; it was the beautiful writing, and the touching story of this dysfunctional family. While I wanted to rant and yell at Cora for staying with an abusive husband, my heart ached for her struggle. How do you give up on someone you love? For those of us lucky enough to never have experienced this kind of relationship, it might be hard to understand that walking away is not an easy option. However, the author did a wonderful job of not only showing Cora’s struggle with her faith that things with get better against her fear of staying and of running.
As for Ernt Allbright, I’m not sure there ever was a time he was good, happy, and “normal.” And while it was easy to hate him, we could see that he wasn’t all bad. He really struck me as a person who struggled with more than just PTSD. There seemed to be traces of bipolarism and definitely narcissistic personality disorder. Through Leni and Cora’s eyes we saw there was love fighting the darkness. Sadly, it didn’t win.
The story is told mostly through Leni’s young eyes. We experience her own struggle to fit in, to adapt, and the heartbreak that comes with finding out your heroes are flawed. Despite the dysfunctional dynamics in this family, Leni is devoted to her mom and it’s this relationship that gives the two women the strength to keep going and to try to make this new life work.
Kristan Hannah has written a beautiful, emotional story that is also devastatingly sad, yet full of hope. Her characters are complex, flawed and real. Her descriptions are full and vivid. This might have been my first Kristan Hannah book, but it will not be my last and I have no doubt THE GREAT ALONE will stay with me. Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for advanced copy.