Thursday, December 3, 2020

Katherine Center - How to Walk Away

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the
promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.
In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

Comment: This author's books have been mentioned by many lately as being romantic, soulful and similar adjectives. Of course I felt curious, especially because some people whose taste in books is like mine have liked them and even recommended them. I got the opportunity to read this one and I finally started it.

In this book we meet heroine Margaret, a young woman who isn't too fond of flying but who still accepts to go with her recently approved pilot boyfriend on a "spur of the moment" flight to see the views. She also knows this is her not-too-original boyfriend's idea of proposing. That is what ends up happening, and Margaret knows it will be the beginning of a very steady life but then, a sudden situation changes everything she believed was already set on stone.Now, she needs to face a completely different way of looking at her life, she needs to adjust and she needs to deal with things she never expected, both in her life and in regards to those around her, including her family. Is Margaret ready to become someone very different from who she thought she would be?

I don't think it's that much of a spoiler to say Margaret ends up in the hospital after the plane crashes, after all it says she is there in the blurb. It becomes very obvious what her challenges are going to be and how that must affect her perception of her surroundings. However, even though it felt it would predictable how the plot would develop, I confess I was still positively surprised by how much I was enjoying Margaret's POV (the whole book is told in first person by her), since I usually don't tend to be that amazed by one person narrating in romance novels.

Sadly for me, it didn't last long. At first, Margaret's direct and somewhat aloof manner were refreshing and it did give a special touch to a story which had to feel tragic but her "voice" made things bearable and, should I say, even a little less serious than what the situation required, so instead of a huge drama where one cries endlessly, we had an almost cute heroine sharing things from a funny point of view. As the story developed, though, this started to feel less quirky and cutesy-cute to become repetitive and superficial. (Had I had the patience, I think I could write a dissertation on what feels superficial content to me)

What a pity because from some point on, the story started to feel less intense, less dramatic (in the good sense!) and the situations started to have this sense of unlikeliness, as if characters went though wrong motions just to get a feeling across. It's no surprise Margaret has a little crush on her PT, renowned to be harsh and unbending, but at some point he does agree to go to Margaret's house with her, her sister and her boyfriend so he could keep an eye on Margaret and her limitated movements so she doesn't get hurt. What? I really can't imagine a professional doing this even if well paid, and especially if personal boundaries had been crossed already. It feels this scene happened so that Margaret and the PT could be alone in a supposedly "touching" moment but I couldn't get past the lack of professionalism. Even if this is possible in the US reality. I believe the author could have gone different ways to tell us about Margaret's difficulties, her fears, her adapting to a new way of living... there would be so much to explore just on this, but....

I won't go into all the small dramas related to all characters, including Margaret's parents (was this sub plot really necessary? I think the focus could have been only Margaret's situation, that was more than enough) and her PT. It was nice to think the author wanted to convey depth and layers to the characters but I can't say I thought the execution was done in the best way possible. I think a different tone or a different narrator or a different something could have made this story much sharper.

Closer to the end, things change, Margaret finally decides to act on her emotional shortcomings and, as expected, the plot quickly goes into movie-like questionable probability, and everything Margaret decides and needs to do, happens very easily, from getting money to her projects, to how smoothly things happen to her and those around her. Yes, this is fiction, but to have things happening slowly or at a more likely pace throughout most of the book and then suddenly all happens so easily and so quickly... it feels weird.

Then the story ends, all common clichés are used up to make the HEA feel almost too sugary and finally, an epilogue ten years later to let us know what happened to this motley crew in the meantime. I was severely disappointed, really. Why does the author need to add the scenes, the explanations and the shocking information on some issues she does, after the way the plot developed in the rest of the book? Drama? Her notion of a twist? Realistic odds? I think the epilogue was badly done, pointless and didn't add anything to the story. Just my opinion.

This didn't end up being that great to me, despite some positive aspects here and there. It was very easy and fluid to read, I'll say that. I'm going to try another book by this author in the future, to see if I just picked a less good one or if she just isn't the author for me.

Grade: 5/10

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