Thursday, December 26, 2019

Anna McPartlin - So What If I'm Broken

Once, Jane Moore and Alexandra Walsh were inseparable, sharing secrets and stolen candy, plotting their futures together. But when Jane became pregnant at seventeen, they drifted slowly apart. Jane has spent the years since raising her son, now seventeen himself, on her own, running a gallery, managing her sister's art career, and looking after their volatile mother all the while trying not to resent the limited choices life has given her.
Then a quirk of fate and a faulty elevator bring Jane into contact with Tom, Alexandra's husband, who has some shocking news. Alexandra disappeared from a south Dublin suburb months ago, and Tom has been searching fruitlessly for her. Jane offers to help, as do the elevator's other passengers, Jane's brilliant but self-absorbed sister, Elle, and Leslie Sheehan, a reclusive web designer who's ready to step back into the world again. And as Jane quickly realizes, Tom isn't the only one among them who's looking for something . . . or traveling toward unexpected revelations about love, life, and what it means to let go, in every sense.
In this insightful and irresistible novel, by turns profound, poignant, and laugh- out-loud funny, acclaimed Irish writer Anna McPartlin tells a story of friendship and love, of the families we are born into and the ones we create for ourselves, and of the hope and strength that remain when we find the courage to leave the past behind at last.

Comment: I got this book not long ago (meaning less than 2 years 😀) and felt interested because I thought it would be a simple, cozy story with a HEA at some point. One of those books to read when the mood isn't high for dramas or complex plots but I have to say I was surprised by how intense a few details ended up being, even though the global feel is one of "missed goal".
Also a little confusing, why does this book have three different titles in the same language? I guess two are because of US/UK choices but three and all quite different... it can be confusing when checking the original title, since I read a translated edition.

In this story we meet a cast of characters who meet and spend time together after a chance encounter at a concert but sadly they get stuck in an elevator and miss most of it. While inside, they start talking and it turns out three of them have a person they know in common, Alexandra. 
Alexandra is the wife of Tom and former best friend of Jane after years of different things and she is missing. Tom has flyers with his wife's face and contacts so people can try to give information and Jane and her sister Elly recognize her. The other main character they meet is Leslie, a lonely woman who has some issues of her own to face but who decides to help spread the word since she can arrange for the singer they went to see to help them by posting the information on his website.
Throughout the novel we get to see how things are going and how the lives of these people change because they met each other and how complex they all really are...

First of all, I must say this is not a book about the investigation of Alexandra's disappearance. This fact is only the reason why the characters meet but Alexandra is never a part of the novel. This means the biggest part of everything is centered on the character's steps and choices and how their decisions impact those around them and the feelings involved.
I was slightly surprised by how the story is constructed but I must say the end of the novel was a bit of a let down because some details are not solved in a very definite manner.

The main characters are Tom, Jane, Elly and Leslie and, in a secondary but also important way, the ones closest to them, like Jane's son and ex boyfriend, Leslie's ex brother in law and Tom's in-laws. Every situation surrounding them seems easy to explain, they seem to follow certain patterns of behavior but there are hidden things among the clichés and, surprisingly, there are obvious things happening but not because of the usual reasons or done in the usual way.

As the story moves along, so does the tasks done in order to make people aware of Alexandra«s disappearance and there is one or two red herrings to make the reader consider possibilities regarding what happened to her. However, like I said this is not the real focus, so what really matters while we read about that is how doing that brings Tom, Jane and Leslie closer and we get to see them becoming friends, starting to trust each other, finding support on each other, especially because we also see what personal choices they do while sharing a common goal.

I think this is the best feature of the story: yes, some situations they face in their lives are clichés but some drama and intensity of the feelings, the emotions and the impact of their choices are all details I found well done. This story turned out to be a little more complex than the simple chick lit I imagined it would be.
Sadly for me, while this happens and while some things can be seen as touching, there are things the characters do (namely Tom and Jane's sister) which I think are such avoidable and silly clichés, not really allowing the plot to move forward because there would be other ways to express the same result. It's the element that sort of brought the level down and I wish the author had made a different path for them because then the story would be richer for certain.

As a whole, this was a good story to read, I liked some details, some elements the author provided were quite interesting, especially those related to the main characters' plights or problems. It's not perfect because things could have been done differently while maintaining the steady flow of things which would allow the reader to want to keep reading but some things were not necessary and in parts I did feel rather distanced from the characters since there was quite a share of telling and not showing. Still, a better effort than what I'd imagine...
Grade: 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment