Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Girl's Guide to Moving On

Title:  A Girl's Guide to Moving On
Author:  Debbie Macomber
Publication Information:  Ballantine Books. 2016. 352 pages.
ISBN:  0553391925 / 978-0553391923

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Not so long ago I assumed I had the perfect life."

Favorite Quote:  "If you don't mind a suggestion, the next time you meet someone don't work so hard to impress them. Show interest in the other person. Ask questions and listen and you'll be surprised by how entertaining the other person things you are."

This book begins with an ending - two, in fact. Two long time marriages end in divorce. Nichole and her mother in law Leanne both leave their husbands - father and son - due to their husbands' infidelities. In doing so, they find friendship and support in each other, moving into neighboring apartments. Together, they come up with a list - The Girl's Guide to Moving On as "ways in which we would get through this pain." The list has four items:
  • "Don't allow yourself to wallow in your pain. Reach out. Volunteer. Do something you love or something to help others."
  • "Cultivate new friendships."
  • "Let go in order to receive."
  • "Love yourself."
So far, so good. I love the concept of women finding strength in themselves to stand on their own and to move past relationships that hurt. I love the items on the list - volunteerism, friendship, self-care - all not only ways of healing but also ways of living life. I look forward to seeing these tenets manifested in this story.

Then comes the rest of the story and the unstated item on Nichole and Leanne's list - enter into a new romantic relationship. Yes, a new relationship can indeed be part of moving on, even an ultimately important part. Yes, the idea that love may come again after betrayal is a positive one. In this book, however, the insta-romance becomes the focal point of the book, leaving aside the idea of strong, independent women reinventing themselves after a betrayal.

Glimmers of that independence exist. Nichole juggles work, volunteering, and being a single parent. Leanne finds a new passion in teaching. However, these aspects of the story are presented as background with the romance taking center stage. I expected the story to be the other way around, with the focus more on the women rather than their new romances.

Glimmers of a social snobbery also exist in the book. Nichole's and Leanne's husbands both are well-off. Repeated references are made to their country-club lifestyle. On the other hand, Nichole's new interest Rocco is introduced as a tow truck driver. Mind you, he owns the company, but the references remain to his unfamiliarity with the "finer" things in life. Leanne's new love Nikolai is depicted as a recent immigrant working at a bakery. Mind you, he is a gifted baker who ultimately starts his own business, but the references remain to his differences. The focus on these socioeconomic differences seems to be out of place since the point is that these two men are the true gentlemen in Nichole and Leanne's life whereas the two husbands were selfish philanderers. Why not keep the focus on character rather than economics?

Perhaps, I am over analyzing a light chick-lit read for I end up more frustrated than empathetic with the characters and the story. It is a quick and easy read. For a romance, it is a clean read. Ultimately, though, it is a romance like many others and lacks a depth that the premise of the book could have led to, making it not quite the book for me.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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