“If it comes, let it come. If it stays, let it stay. If it goes, let it go.”
― Nicholas Sparks,
At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear… In a matter of months, Russ finds himself without a job or wife, caring for his young daughter while struggling to adapt to a new and baffling reality.
Romance / Fiction / 497 pages
This novel is written from Russell’s point of view. We watch him change and adapt as curveballs are thrown into his life, and things that are precious to him are taken away. I love that Russell has both strengths and flaws: He is ingenious when it comes to advertising, and he is a kind and trusting person. On the other hand, because he hasn’t been the primary caregiver for his daughter London, it is an uphill climb for him to learn to take care of her. I also love that we get up close and personal with Russ. We not only learn about his present but also his past – his childhood, his relationships with his family, and his mistakes, which all shape who he is as an adult. Russ is a likeable character who seems real.
I liked reading about the other characters, for the most part. Some of my favourite scenes are dialogues between Russ and London, which are so natural and at times comical. Throughout the story, we see how their relationship changes and evolves, as London learns to trust and rely on her father more. I also like Marge and Liz, Russ’s sister and her wife, and Russ’s mother and father. They each have their own personalities, and we get a sense of how their histories with Russ shape their relationships with him.
On the other hand, I find Vivian’s character (Russell’s wife) to be less believable. For most of the story, she is selfish, manipulative, and almost sociopathic. And that’s fine. I’d say (from personal experience), that some terrible peeps are like that in the real world. Call me jaded, but these people don’t change. However, towards the second half of the story, Vivian’s personality goes through a dramatic shift which I find to be unrealistic.
The plot unfolds slowly, with ample amount of time to explore Russell’s relationships with the people who are important to him. I think that is appropriate for the type of book it is. There is a very subtle and slow-moving romance which is nice and heartwarming. Oh, and there is a plot twist towards the end of the book which comes out of the blue. I am not too sure how I feel about it: It is an event that is not caused by any of the characters, so it doesn’t feel relevant to the story. On the other hand, this is a story that is meant to imitate real life, and well, in real life, $&@* happens.
This is a pretty clean novel. We usually equate the Romance genre with super sexy and steamy love scenes. But there is none of that here. Maybe just, like, a sentence. This is a novel that I would recommend to my conservative, traditional-minded Asian mom. Seriously :’)
I am a fan of the writing in this novel. Russell’s internal monologue flows well. All the dialogue between characters is fantastic.
The Bottom Line:
Despite the few qualms I have about this novel, I liked it. I liked Russ, London, Marge, Liz, Emily, and Russ’s Mom and Dad enough that it kept me turning the pages. This novel is a good rainy day read when you want to immerse yourself in someone else’s reality.