Book Review – Miss You by Kate Eberlen

Book Review – Miss You by Kate Eberlen
Book Review – Miss You by Kate EberlenMiss You by Kate Eberlen
Published by Harper
Publication date: April 4, 2017
Genres: Women's Fiction
Narrator: Anna Acton, Finlay Robertson
Length: 12 hrs and 52 mins
448 pages
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: Publisher

A wryly romantic debut novel with echoes of One Day that asks, what if you just walked by the love of your life, but didn’t even know it?

"TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE." Tess can’t get the motto from her mother’s kitchen knickknack out of her head, even though she’s in Florence on an idyllic vacation before starting university in London.

Gus is also visiting Florence, on a holiday with his parents seven months after tragedy shattered their lives. Headed to medical school in London, he’s trying to be a dutiful son but longs to escape and discover who he really is.

A chance meeting brings these eighteen-year-olds together for a brief moment—the first of many times their paths will crisscross as time passes and their lives diverge from those they’d envisioned. Over the course of the next sixteen years, Tess and Gus will face very different challenges and choices. Separated by distance and circumstance, the possibility of these two connecting once more seems slight.

But while fate can separate two people, it can also bring them back together again. . . .


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MISS YOU is a story of missed connections about two people who are perfect for each other but never meet over the course of fifteen years.

Tess and Gus first meet briefly in Florence as teenagers—she while on holiday with her best friend, Doll and he while on a trip with his parents who are still grieving after losing his older brother in a skiing accident. Over the next several years, both of their lives take them on journeys neither of them saw coming. Serendipitously, they almost meet again several times over many years.

For much of the novel both Tess and Gus struggle with their own identity. After losing his brother (his parent’s favorite son), he doesn’t want to disappoint them and enrolls in university to study medicine, all the while knowing that medicine isn’t the calling of his heart. Meanwhile, Tess’s plans of studying English and writing are scrapped when tragedy strikes her family and she chooses to take care of her little sister.

What this book does well is crafting two likable but flawed characters. Gus and Tess make choices along the way with which the reader may not always agree. But these seemingly poor choices take the characters on paths that bring them close to meeting but never quite do, something that can be tortuously frustrating for the reader. This novel deeply explores the idea of fate and how people come into our lives for a reason. The tension between autonomy, destiny, and fate is something that is perhaps a bit controversial but leaves room for a lot of discussion.

When I read the synopsis over a year ago (prior to the U.K. publication even), I was immediately taken by the whole “missed connection” premise. I’ve read a missed connection type of romance before that didn’t really work because the novel leaned too much on its premise and not enough on character development. I felt like this novel had really great character development, since the two characters are living completely separate lives, but still felt like it suffered from far too many coincidences.

This book is being marketed mostly as a romance. If you read the synopsis, you might think this a romance novel. I think it fits more in the women’s fiction category that it does for romance because the romance between Tess and Gus is so short in page count.

The whole novel builds to the two finally meeting, but the romance part of the novel seemed like an afterthought. Maybe if Tess and Gus had actually had a moment as teenagers to hold on to and carry their love story for nearly 400 more pages it would have worked. But here, the reader is given just a couple passing conversations with no romantic substance (or even the promise of one) and then we go on to learn about these two people separately, who go though similar journeys. When Tess and Gus meet up again, the intense romantic connection we are asked to immediately believe in felt stale and far too rushed.

If I had to rate the book as a romance, I would probably only give it 2 stars. But looking at the novel as a whole and ignoring the frustrating and short-lived love story we were given, I really liked reading about Gus and Tess’s separate lives.

Audiobook Comments:

I really enjoyed Anna Acton and Finlay Robertson’s performances. They really brought Tess and Gus’s characters to life. I really enjoyed both of the narrators and would recommend this audiobook.

Since I had both the ebook and the audiobook, I did notice a few discrepancies between the two versions. This book is penned by an English author, so there are some British expressions left in the audiobook that had been changed for the North American version. This wasn’t a big deal but I felt that it was important to point out in case this bothered you.

* Thank you to Harper audio and Harper books for providing me with an early copy for review.

 

Cover-Miss You by Kate Eberlen

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Audiobook Review – It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany

Audiobook Review – It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany
Audiobook Review – It Happens All the Time by Amy HatvanyIt Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany
Published by Atria
Publication date: March 28, 2017
Genres: Women's Fiction
Narrator: Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
Length: 9 hrs and 49 mins
320 pages
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher

From master storyteller Amy Hatvany—whose writing has been hailed as “gripping and emotionally honest” (Stephanie Evanovich, New York Times betselling author)—comes a provocative and compelling novel about two friends whose lives are changed by a drunken kiss.

I want to rewind the clock, take back the night when the world shattered. I want to erase everything that went wrong.

Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers—trusting and depending on each other through some of the darkest periods of their young lives. And while Amber has always felt that their relationship is strictly platonic, Tyler has long harbored the secret desire that they might one day become more than friends.

Returning home for the summer after her college graduation, Amber begins spending more time with Tyler than she has in years. Despite the fact that Amber is engaged to her college sweetheart, a flirtation begins to grow between them. One night, fueled by alcohol and concerns about whether she’s getting married too young, Amber kisses Tyler.

What happens next will change them forever.

In alternating points of view, It Happens All the Time examines the complexity of sexual dynamics between men and women and offers an incisive exploration of gender roles, expectations, and the ever-timely issue of consent.


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Amy Hatvany’s IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME is explores the emotional state of two best friends after one commits a horrendous violation of trust on the other.

I was one of the millions of Americans who was outraged at the Brock Turner case that was all over the news last year. I was and still am completely sickened by what he did, his family’s blasé characterization of what he did (“twenty minutes of action”), and the lack of responsibility he appears to have taken. Most of all, however, I’m struck and inspired by the strength of “Emily Doe”, the girl who penned an emotionally raw and honest statement to him that made me cry. I couldn’t help but read think of this case as I read this novel.

We learn that Amber and Tyler have been friends for more than 9 years and their families are very close. Amber has battled with anorexia in the past and has very loving parents. Tyler secretly struggles with anxiety and with a supportive mother and a poor excuse for a father. He’s been in love with her for her for years, but she has never felt the same way. Now engaged to her college boyfriend, Amber is ready to start her new life until one night changes everything.

This subject matter of this book is timely, considering the issues of rape and consent are at the top of the nation’s headlines on a consistent basis. Since this is written in a dual point of view in the first perspective, the reader gets a front row seat into the emotional state of both Amber and Tyler.

The most glaring problem for me with this book is that I didn’t really feel anything, one way or another with this book. Obviously, I sympathized for Amber due to the horrific trauma she had to endure. Neither characters’ emotional arcs were fully developed that allowed the reader to completely empathize with them. The lack of connection here is largely due to inconsistent characterizations (which is explained below) and a lack of character development.

The premise of this novel was really promising. What in the world could lead one friend to hurt another so terribly? Tyler cares deeply for Amber, is close with her family, and is a seemingly good guy working as a paramedic. He doesn’t seem to have this dark sinister side, like we might see in other novels covering this issue. The fact that he has this cleaner image sets a different emotional tone and is an interesting angle for a storyline such as this.

The way this premise was actually executed was problematic because it was difficult to reconcile Tyler’s backstory with how he actually acted after the rape. Tyler’s character was hard for me to swallow. He victimized himself and it bothered me to no end. I know that happens (as it did in the Brock Turner case) but in this case where Tyler was so attuned to Amber and her feelings, it was hard for me to believe that he wouldn’t have crumbled emotionally much earlier than when he did.

I never felt sorry for Tyler to the point that I didn’t want him to be punished, but I could understand to a point just how conflicted he felt. It would be hard wanting to believe and admit to yourself that you were capable of hurting someone you loved so much and for so long. Tyler was in a sort of self-imposed denial, refusing to consciously admit to what he did or take responsibility for what he did. What frustrated me was that Tyler actually did remember that she said no and admitted to himself that he continued to rape her after that point. Yet he kept using the phrase “she might have been hurt” or some variance of it when he knew what he did. Might? Really? Tyler seemed really obtuse.

Neither Tyler’s anxiety or Amber’s eating disorder were really essential to the story. If those things were removed from these characters’ backstory, the novel would largely be unchanged. I didn’t think either of those mental illnesses gave the characters more depth. Amber’s character, especially, lacked depth. Given the subject matter, one might expect for a victim of rape to elicit strong emotions from the reader out of sheer sympathy, but her character was very bland.

I did enjoy parts of it but I didn’t feel moved by this book. I needed stronger characterization in this novel. There were a few moments in the end between Tyler and Amber that did leave an emotional imprint, but overall this book isn’t one that will leave a lasting mark.

Audiobook Comments:

I love Julia Whelan and so when I saw this was narrated by her, I got really excited. She is a narrator who delivers consistently good performance and this one was no exception. Kirby Heyborne isn’t one of my favorite narrators, simply due to his style. But I did think his performance here was good and didn’t distract from the novel.

Thanks to Atria for sending me this audiobook for review. This didn’t affect my opinion.

Teaser - It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany

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