Book Review│Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner

jackJL Markham is a 15-year-old girl who is out of sorts with her world around her. She lives with her mentally-ill mother, has lost her best friend to a group of other girls and her dad is on a business trip that keeps getting extended. She decides to write a long-flowing letter to her friend Aubrey, letting her know what has happened since the two girls had parted ways. She is hopelessly trying to cling to things from her old life even if those things are leading her down a path of self-destruction. 

Additionally, JL is also madly in puppy love with a senior named Max who is rough on the outside, but also shows her that on the inside he has the soul of a poet. Their age difference causes problems in that Max is ready to pack up and get the heck out of town once senior year ends, but what about JL? At only 15, she’s stuck between staying and disobeying her parents to run away with Max.

Gae Polisner’s Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me is a story of coming of age and the frailty of female friendships during that pivotal time in young women’s lives. JL is stuck between who she is going to become and who she is going to have let go of. It is never an easy time or decision to begin living in your future instead of your past. This is Polisner’s fifth young adult novel and she shines with it. The voice of JL is poignantly 15-years-old and not overly dramatic or overly subtle like some writers go when writing younger characters. Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me is a believable story of a young girl trying to find herself on the other side of adolescence while not completely losing who and what she was before. I would recommend this book for adults as well as middle-grade readers who are looking for something a little more in-depth.

While a 15-year-old’s love story might not be something most adults would pick up, I think you will find that Polisner has written this so well that it brings you back to your own time as a young girl in love for the first time, trying to navigate your relationships, your friendships and your own dreams. The darkness and the tragedies that befall JL show the strength of youth in times of adversity and how even though we may be young when we face them, we very much feel them every step of our journey through them. When you pick this one up, get ready for an authentic and emotionally raw journey through adolescence and your first love.

Book Information

Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner is scheduled to be released on April 7, 2020 from Wednesday Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press with ISBN 9781250312235. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review. All thoughts are entirely my own and I have not received any compensation for this review.

Book Review│Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts by Tilly Tennant

hatties homeThere are few things in life that can level you emotionally, socially and physically all within a couple moments. Heartbreak has got to be one of the worst, most longest lasting ones that can have that kind of power over you that can level you in every which way. Often when you are made to feel that awful, you seek comfort in what is familiar. For Hattie Rose, her heartbreak leads her home and in coming home, she finds herself in an entirely new set of affairs.

From Paris to Dorset

Hattie Rose was living her life in Paris. She loved her life in the city of lights and is established in her path. However, Hattie soon meets with a heartbreak that devastates her and leads her to make a huge mistake at her job. Ultimately, she is forced to leave her job and with the loss of her employment, she also decides that she has to leave Paris behind her as well. She decides to return to her cliffside hometown in England and takes a job at Sweet Briar Farm, an animal sanctuary for abused goats.

Sweet Briar Farm

When Hattie arrives back in Gillypuddle, she takes a job at an animal sanctuary for abused goats. We meet her boss, Jo, who makes it known early on that she is not too fond of her new employee and prefers her goats to people. It takes some time for us to learn that Jo is harboring a secret life and heartbreak of her own. The farm also brings us, Seth, the handsome veterinarian that catches Hattie’s eye and Owen, an equally as handsome newspaper reporter who helps unravel Jo’s secret past.

Theme of Loss

Throughout Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts, we meet characters that are navigating their lives following a large loss. when Hattie first returns home, she learns that her parents are navigating a tragedy and then we meet Jo who is working through her own as we watch Hattie rebuild her life from the one that she had left behind her in Paris. Throughout the tears and the anxiety of loss and the unknown Tennant also intersperses humor and laugh out loud moments that show us that even in the worst of our grief, we can still find the simple joy that brings us to the new lives that we build after we are leveled by our old ones.

Book Information

Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts: A heartwarming laugh out loud romantic comedy by Tilly Tennant is scheduled for release on July 10, 2019, with ISBN 9781838880019 from Bookouture. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review. Pre-order pricing is available through the link provided above.

 

BOOK REVIEW │WINDOW ON THE BAY BY DEBBIE MACOMBER

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Debbie Macomber books are the kinds of books that you go back to when you want something that is comfortable and consistent. Her books are “cozy” books for me because they often are about female friendship throughout the years that span time and love and loss. Window on the Bay is no different.

Female Friendship

Window on the Bay brings us Jenna and Maureen, two women who have raised families and are at a good point in their lives and in their friendship with one another. Jenna has been divorced for 20-something years and has focused her energy on raising her children. Her ex-husband has left a bad taste in her mouth and now, even years later, she still struggles with trusting someone again. With both of her children off at college, she is also struggling with being single and being a new empty nester. Maureen has also had her share of heartache as her marriage ended early as well. Together, the two women have come together over the years and have been each other’s support systems as they figured out motherhood and raising their children without the help of their ex-husbands.

Maureen is happy for her friend and wants her to embrace her newfound independence despite Jenna’s reservations. She pushes for them to take the trip to Paris that they had planned on taking in college together when Jenna became pregnant and canceled those plans.

A Love Affair

As Jenna is finding herself again in her new life as a mom to adult children and a single woman, her mother is in need of hip surgery after she breaks it. Dr. Rowan Lancaster is there to help save her mother and soon, Jenna finds herself being drawn to the handsome surgeon, but at the same time remains extremely guarded because of her past. As handsome as Dr. Rowan is, he is also a surgeon just like her philandering ex-husband who had broken her heart so many years ago.

Jenna must find the strength within herself through her friendship with Maureen and the love she has for her children to break free of her past in order to create her future. Jenna’s children also have their own bits of drama that they come to their mother with and Jenna must find ways to manage the shocking news that they bring her without losing everything that she has newly found.

Book Information

Window on the Bay: A Novel by Debbie Macomber will be released on July 16, 2019, from Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House Publishing with ISBN 9780399181337. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Book Review: One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan

parisWhen I was in my early 20’s, I broke up with my high school/college sweetheart and packed up my life for a semester abroad in Paris. I am all about books that take me back to Paris, especially those that are about a newly single woman navigating her new world in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. I was so excited when I received the galley for Sarah Morgan’s One Summer in Paris.

Morgan’s novel focuses around two women from different worlds: Grace and Audrey. Grace is an American who was looking forward to celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary with her husband whom she books a trip to Paris for. Only, he really surprises her when he tells her that he wants a divorce. Grace packs up her life and her heartbreak for Paris where she finds herself in an apartment of a bookshop. It is here she meets Audrey, a teenage Londoner, who is also working through her own heartbreak. Audrey with her limited French language skills begins to work in the bookstore and forms an unlikely friendship with Grace. Together, the two become their own sort of family.

Inevitably, David, Grace’s husband, decides that he doesn’t want to be with his mistress, Leesa, and wants to reconcile with Grace. This is where the story lost me a little. He is still sleeping with Leesa, but has decided that he rather be with Grace. I felt like he didn’t suffer enough to make up for his crimes and it was here that I was a bit turned off.

Overall, though, this novel is a light summer kind of read that will make you laugh out loud at the scenes between Grace and Audrey. The premise that landed them both there as well as how a small town part time teacher could afford to buy a summer aboard left me guessing, but if you can get past those plot holes, you will definitely enjoy this quick read about heartbreak, female friendship and the power of moving forward in your life even if your heart is broken.

One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan is scheduled for release on April 9, 2019 from Harlequin with ISBN 9781335507549. This review was created after reading an advanced electronic copy of the novel from the publisher.

 

What if we’re all just a little bit Peggy?

Anyone else love the show Mad Men? I have watched it in its entirety at least twice. I loved the clothes, the attitudes, the smoking even in doctor’s offices and of course, just how broken Don Draper is and how he affected everyone around him. And then, of course, there was my lady love, Peggy. I always felt like I was Peggy.

peggy-cigarette

One of my favorite Don moments was when he visits Peggy in the hospital after she gives birth to her surprise baby. She’s beaten and broken, but then Don gives her the best kind of advice when he says:

“Get out of here and move forward,” Don says. “This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.”

The first time I saw that scene, it hit me right to my core because it made me remember that time in my life where I employed the same kind of logic. I was in my early 20’s and fresh out of college. I had my first “real-world” boyfriend and was hopelessly infatuated with him. I was also ridiculously responsible the majority of the time, but with him, I found it easy to let go a little bit and explore life…and love.

So, on a weekend away together things got a little crazy and it also didn’t go the way of responsibility, even though we both very much were. I didn’t know it then, but in making those choices, I came to a fork in the road. One of those decisions that you don’t know at the time, but will, either way, lead you down a different path.

I could have made the choice to take a huge risk and find myself in an unplanned pregnancy and kiss my graduate school acceptance and life in New York City goodbye, or I could take a pill and pretend like nothing ever happened.

I took the pill.

It surprised me how easy it was to do it. I thought to myself, I will never know so why think about this anymore? After that, I didn’t.

For years. It was the easiest thing to just forget. I never thought about it. It just slipped into the vast nothingness of my subconscious and there it stayed, for years.

Until one rainy April day after I broke up with my next “real-world” boyfriend who I pretty much only dated because he reminded me of the first real-world boyfriend. I never said that I made very healthy choices in my 20’s, now did I? It brought up a lot of unresolved issues I needed to work through and in that moment of seeing this, this became one of them. The guilt didn’t hit yet though, and it wouldn’t for some time.

Not until, the months leading up to my wedding which was the biggest transition and commitment of my life, I began to think about so many things that had led me to the man of my dreams and the new life that lay before me. We had discussed starting a family and since we are both over 30, that it was time to do it sooner rather than later. Just like that my overwhelming desire to be a mom kicked into hyperdrive. It was overwhelming, very close to the time a couple years ago where I became obsessed with the idea of being a foster mom until I realized how hopelessly screwed up our child protective system actually is. However, this was different. This was a desire to be a mom that almost burned.

And so did that long buried decision I made at 22 years old and all the guilt that came with it. How could I now want something that before I was so quick to dismiss because the timing wasn’t right? And how easy that choice was and how easy it was to ignore for so many years?

I was reminded of Peggy again when she tells Pete the truth about where she went in the earlier season and says:

“I could have had you in my life forever if I wanted to,” she says almost dreamily. “I could have had you. I could have shamed you into being with me. But I didn’t want to… I wanted other things.”

Yes, I knew it was my choice because I wanted other things. I wanted to make something of myself and see the world and write books and study art. I didn’t want to be burdened with a man that I, though very into, wasn’t really committed to and who lived 6 hours from me.

I wanted other things.

Until I met my husband and then, I really did want those things with him. And so, I prayed. A lot. I prayed for forgiveness for possibly destroying another life, for the callousness of being 22 and thinking it was just something that never happened and was so easy to be shocked by how it never happened. To God for breaking all kinds of rules and not being considerate of myself or anyone else.

I had a long list.

Within a month, I was…at last…very much pregnant.

273

In just 273 days, I’m going to be getting married. This sound so crazy to me. As much as I wanted to get married and have a family, there has always been such a large part of me that felt it was never going to happen. Yet, here we are planning a fairly small wedding at the most beautiful, artsy French-style venue I could find in New Jersey. It’s going to be so beautiful.

I’ll have just turned 31 when we walk down the aisle. I will have one full year under my belt of this totally new decade in my life. How crazy is that?

I remember thinking that 30 was just so old and so far off, but then it sneaked up on me and suddenly, I was 30. I remember my 28th birthday, we were just outside of Monaco, on our way to Florence. We had just left the Beaujolais where we stayed in a very haunted Chateau. It was the most amazing birthday that year. We had only been together for about seven months when we went on that month long adventure across 20-something countries. By the end, I knew that this was who I was going to marry.

dsc_4770-edit

That was the capstone to one of the more turbulent decades of my life. My teens weren’t that much better, but that had revolved around drama created by people with me stuck in the middle. The chaos of my 20’s were mostly self-made and structured around poor decisions, bad advice and listening to other people instead of following what I really wanted to do.

That same year I moved an hour away from home. I also bought my house that year too. I became the newest resident to the Jersey shore and then the new decade began. So far, it’s been a much more calmer decade. I don’t feel the constant emotional upheaval that drove most of my 20’s and early teens. I feel more in control and I think the most important thing I have learned so far is that it is not only totally okay to say “no,” but there comes times where you simply just have to. That took a very long time for me to learn.

And now in just 273 days, I’ll be walking down the aisle to the man I have shared the last 3 years with. A house, two dogs, three cats, countless adventures, Disney World, Europe– so much in such a short time and yet, so much more yet to come.

All in just 273 days.