Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Backlist Hannah Book Just Okay

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Exhausted from years of trying to have a baby with nothing but heartbreak to show for it, Angie Malone has had enough.  Enough of the miscarriages, enough of the failed adoptions, enough of the marriage that has crumbled under the strain.  With divorce on the horizon, she moves back to her tiny seaside hometown of West End, Washington.  Between all the drama her big, loud Italian clan cooks up and her new task of saving the family's struggling Italian restaurant, Angie should have plenty to focus on besides her crushed dreams.

When Lauren Ribido walks into Angie's life, everything changes.  With her world-weary countenance and ill-fitting Salvation Army wardrobe, it's clear the 17-year-old is in need of some TLC.  Especially when her alcoholic mother disappears, leaving Lauren to fend for herself.  As Angie pours all the love she's been storing up for her own child into this abandoned young woman, she cautions herself against growing too attached.  When Lauren announces that she's pregnant, Angie can't help the hope that flutters in her heart.  She knows better than to play the "What if" game, but what if Lauren can provide the one thing Angie wants most in the world?  How far will Angie go to make that happen?  And what of the teenaged mother?  What does she want?  If their desires conflict, what does that mean for their newly-discovered closeness?  What will happen as the two frightened women try to navigate their unknown futures?

I'm a big fan of Kristin Hannah's recent blockbuster novels, The Nightingale and The Great Alone.  While waiting for her to produce another stunning masterpiece, I've been making my way through her backlist.  I've enjoyed some of these older novels—others, not so much.  The Things We Do For Love (2004) falls somewhere in the middle.  I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either.  Its premise intrigued me and I was definitely interested to see where the story would go.  Unfortunately, although I sympathized with Angie, I didn't really like her.  To me, she seemed self-centered, fickle, and short-sighted.  This made it tough for me to side with her, while I had no problem rooting for Lauren.  This, plus the fact that The Things We Do For Love seemed to ramble on longer than necessary, made the novel less enjoyable than it could have been.  In the end, then, I feel a bit ambivalent about this one.  Like I said before, I didn't love it, didn't hate it.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Safe With Me by Amy Hatvany and How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder expletives) and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Things We Do For Love at Target with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

12 comments:

  1. What you say about this one reminds me a lot of the reaction I'm having to the narrator of the ARC I'm reading right now, "Daughter of the Reich." She's not very likable, quite weak really, but about 70% of the way through she does something very courageous - and out of character for a 16-year-old girl like her. I'm having a hard time buying it, and that makes the novel troublesome for me.

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    1. I have a hard time when characters, especially kids, do something totally out of character. I get that characters have to change and grow throughout a book, but if they're still not likable by the end of the book ... ugh. Hate that.

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  2. I loved The Nightingale but haven't read any more of her books.

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    1. THE NIGHTINGALE is awesome! One of my all-time favorite books.

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  3. That's disappointing but I guess not all an author's books can be a win. I've yet to try Hannah but I think I'll start with one of her newer books.

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    1. Too true and I think I judge all Hannah books by her two newest, which were sweeping, epic novels that I really loved. I shouldn't do that since it makes sense that her newest ones would be her best.

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  4. One of those middling reads, huh? I sometimes find those the hardest to review.

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    1. I agree! It's easier to review a book I feel strongly about, whether it's strong love or strong dislike :)

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  5. I have a Kristin Hannah on my TBR shelf, Winter Garden, and want to love it, which makes me nervous to read it. Does that make sense?

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    1. That makes total sense! I have a copy of WINTER GARDEN, too, but I've yet to read it. I think I'm also a little nervous that I won't love it.

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  6. I have several of Hannah's books but I don't think I have actually read her work yet. Sorry this one wasn't a bit better for you.

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  7. I think several of her older books have a different feel than her more recent ones. I have not read this one and do not have it so probably won't, but I do have a lot of books from her backlist to read. Nice, honest review as usual Susan.

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