READ: FEB 09 - 21, 2O12
RATING: 9 OUT OF 10
Elizabeth and Jackson Shore married young, raised two daughters, and weathered the storms of youth as they built a family. From a distance, their lives look picture perfect. But after the girls leave home, Jack and Elizabeth quietly drift apart. When Jack accepts a wonderful new job, Elizabeth puts her own needs aside to follow him across the country. Then tragedy turns Elizabeth’s world upside down. In the aftermath, she questions everything about her life—her choices, her marriage, even her long-forgotten dreams. In a daring move that shocks her husband, friends, and daughters, she lets go of the woman she has become—and reaches out for the woman she wants to be.
I really, really enjoyed this book. I thought it would end up being a 8/10, but the ending pushed it up to a 9. I loved how it showed that you can rediscover who you are deep inside and invigorate your life without giving up your marriage or family. Yes, Elizabeth made mistakes in letting her family take over who she was and lost herself in the process, but she was able to reawaken herself without giving up her husband and daughters. My only real difficulty with this book was that Jack and Birdie didn't exactly have a "normal" family life, and while I'm sure many couples go through similar struggles, Jack's job and fame presented a lot of issues that other families wouldn't have to deal with. Plus, I'm really not a sports fan at all, and I found a lot of the aspects of his work to be pretty pretentious. His job alienated me a little. Otherwise, I thought that the book was a very realistic presentation of what can happen to a couple once their children have left home and they realise that they've forgotten why they got married in the first place. I didn't find this at all depressing, as one might expect since I'm getting married in five months. It didn't make me scared for what might come in twenty years time. Instead, it encouraged me to pursue my hobbies and talents and not let them get pushed aside. Even if my main dream in life is to be a wife and mother, children don't stay in the home forever and I wouldn't ever want to end up like Birdie, married for twenty-four years yet having no idea of who she is. And while I want to encourage my husband's own dreams and aspirations, I learned from Jack and Birdie that it's important to have a balance; Jack's dreams cost Elizabeth hers, and this isn't at all fair. As you can see, this book was very thought-provoking, even for someone who is in no way in a similar situation to Elizabeth. This was my first Kristin Hannah novel and I imagine that it'll stay with me for a while. I'll definitely be reading more of her novels.
On the narration for the audiobook: Amazing! The narrator managed to give each character distinct voices without being over-the-top about it, and I'm not sure how they managed it, but at certain parts of the recording the audio company had used affects to make it sound like someone was talking down a telephone line or shouting from a different room. It definitely brought the characters of this novel to life. Highly recommended.