Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Eight Perfect Hours

  Eight Perfect Hours
Author:  Lia Louis
Publication Information:  Atria/Emily Bestler Books. 2021. 336 pages.
ISBN:  1982135948 / 978-1982135942

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "To Noelle. My girl. My best friend"

Favorite Quote:  "... the only way to live forever is to leave parts of yourself behind."

Lia Louis's first book Dear Emmie Blue is about a woman reckoning with the impact of a traumatic childhood event, a friendship whose conclusion the reader sees coming way before Emmie does, and a cast of mostly endearing characters. The book does incorporate serious issues including abuse and an unhealthy relationships. Yet, the book ends up a sweet, feel good story about the power of love and friendship.

Eight Perfect Hours works in somewhat the same way. The serious issues in this book include a young accidental death, depression and mental illness, caregiving, and aging. Once again, as the reader, I see the conclusion well before it arrives. Once again, the book ends up more about the power of self discovery, friendship, and the courage to live your life. Once again, some of the dynamics between Noelle and her brother are indicative of an unhealthy relationship.

In addition, this book adds in the element of fate, karma and kismet. Call it what you will, it all ends at the same place. Some things are just meant to be.

The book begins in the middle of an unexpected snowstorm. Noelle finds herself stuck on a highway, where the cars are not moving. A dire need lands her in the car next to her; that car belongs to Sam, an American on his way to the airport to head home. Noelle and Sam spend eight "perfect" hours stuck together in the snow storm. The highway gets cleared, and each goes on their way.

Yet,  Noelle cannot stop thinking about Sam, and, as fate would have it, their paths keeps crossing in completely unrelated and unexpected way. It's almost as if it is meant to be. In the midst of their budding friendship, there are old relationships to be reckoned with, jobs to be contended with, and families to be cared for.

The entire book is written from Noelle's perspective, who, at the time of this book, is thirty-something. The reader sees her continuing struggle with the death of her best friend in high school. The reader sees the sense of responsibility she feels as the primary caretaker of her mother and her resentment at her brother's role in the process. At the same time, the reader sees her need to move forward with her own life. The reader also sees her walking away from a twelve year relationship. The relationship may not have been right anyways, but her reason for walking away is family. What the reader does not see is Noelle expressing any of these concerns out loud. Nor does the book show her having the hard conversations in her life.

The book ends as you might expect, but the addition of these conversations would have added substantial depth to the book. Nevertheless, a sweet story with which to spend eight, perhaps not perfect but still, enjoyable hours.

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

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