Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Back of the Book Blurb:
Brooke O’Connor — elegant, self-possessed, and kind — has a happy marriage and a deeply loved young daughter. So her adamant refusal to have a second child confounds her husband, Sean. When Brooke’s high school boyfriend Alex — now divorced and mourning the death of his young son — unexpectedly resurfaces, Sean begins to suspect an affair.
For fifteen years Brooke has kept a shameful secret from everyone she loves. Only Alex knows the truth that drove them apart. His reappearance now threatens the life she has so carefully constructed and fortified by denial. With her marriage — and her emotional equilibrium — at stake, Brooke must confront what she has been unwilling to face for so long.
But the truth is not what Brooke believes it to be.
Lucy Ferriss’s haunting novel reveals the profound ways in which remorse over the past can not only derail lives but also — sometimes — redeem them.
This wasn’t the best book I have ever read, and it wasn’t the worst. The characters said and did what you expected them to say and do, and the ending was more or less predictable. I did enjoy the book overall, despite it being a middling read.
I read a number of reviews of this book, with varying degrees of criticism, and the one that stuck out to me was the one complaining about the characters always looking back instead of putting the past behind them. That is an impossible expectation for real life, and to wish it for a book is to wish for a different sort of book. In that respect, I think the author got it right. I think the author understood, and conveyed in a reasonably convincing way, how trauma can change you, and how just putting it behind you & moving forward into your future life is not always easy, or even always possible. Brooke & Alex experienced something AS TEENS that most adults would be traumatized by, and their attempts to tuck it into a little box and set it aside (no pun intended) damaged them as much as…well, I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet. So it is hardly unpredictable that their lives would start to unravel, and hardly surprising that their quest for peace would take them back to the beginning. That is human psychology in a nutshell. Predictable, sure, but the nuts & bolts of human psychology nonetheless.
I do think Ferriss tied up the book a little too neatly. Things worked out a little too perfectly for my imperfect and off-kilter taste. The necessary money was just a little too easy to get. The mom was just a little too ready to help, after having been critical & hurtful because Brooke didn’t turn out how she planned. Alex went from one conviction to the other a little too easily to believe. Too neat. Too tidy. Too wrapped up nicely in a box (see, there’s the pun again). I like ambiguity, and the impossibility of fixing things…of finding a balance in some relationships. Truthfully, a bit more of that would have made this book stronger. There was plenty of struggle, but in the end, it was just a bit too easy to “fix.”