Life and Other Inconveniences

by Kristan Higgins

Once, I had loved my grandmother and wanted desperately for her to love me. That hadn’t happened. Try getting someone to love you for ten years and failing . . . It leaves a mark.

All had names, which Riley read aloud as we passed. “Thrush Hill. Summerly. Wisteria Cottage. Cliff View. Pop, we have to name our house when we get back!” “Name it what? Crabgrass?” Pop asked.

I guess the fact that I have 69 highlights says it all. I really enjoyed this book by one of my top 3 favorite authors. It is a character study. I should say characters study with an “s”. Some we spend a great deal of time with (Genevieve) and some only get one good scene (Robert). if they have a name, they are deftly drawn for good or ill. But I loved them all. Which is to say I loved the ones we are supposed to love, which was most of them. The main characters that are not lovable are so well drawn that you can’t hate them unconditionally. You understand why they are like they are, and it’s not always completely their fault. A few that did not have a bit of redemption were not hate-worthy, just contempt-worthy. But you can’t dismiss them. The drawing of Jason’s character was a realization late in the book when a few truths are revealed. Even the most minor of characters had their surprising moments.

The humor was mostly in the form of witty repartee, retorts, and inner reflections, but as in almost all of her books, Kristan does include one of her signature bad date scenes which was screamingly funny. One of her best. Here is a recap by Miller, Emma’s partner in possibly the worst first date ever:

“It’s not fine!” he almost yelled. “Why are you being so . . . great about this? My kid is a sociopath, I’m a horrible father, I picked a pirate restaurant for our first date where someone almost died, you started off the night with beautiful hair and now you’re bald, we’re both covered in blood and corn oil, and Kimmy just texted me to say she forgot to mention that Tess put her own feces in the DVD player. My life is literally shit and blood these days.” He took a shaking breath and looked at the floor. “Well,” I said, “who really watches DVDs anymore?” “Emma,” he began, and I hugged him.

The book was very satisfying. Everyone who needed telling off got told off, everyone that deserved to be happy was rewarded. The overarching mystery (what happened to Sheppard?) was solved. There were moments that were so touching I wept. The romance, even though it didn’t take up many pages was just right. And towards the end, there were some surprises and revelations that took you unawares. Most of all we have Kristan’s intimate and engaging voice that makes the reader, at least me, feel they are right there and part of it all and not on the outside looking in. **5 stars out of 5**

August 12, 2019

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