After Alex’s mother dies of an accidental overdose, Alex takes leave from her job as a writer for a lifestyle magazine to return home to Maryland and join her brother Owen, a study in failure to launch, in sorting out their mother’s whimsical, often self-destructive, life.
While home, Alex plans to profile Juliette Sprigg, an Eastern Shore restaurant owner and celebrity chef in the making who Alex secretly dated in high school. And when Alex enlists the help of Carolyn, the editor of the local newspaper, in finding a photographer for the article’s photo shoot, Alex struggles with the deepening, tender relationship that blossoms between them as well.
To complicate matters, Alex and Owen’s “Aunt” Johanna, who has transitioned to a woman, offers to come from Seattle to help with arrangements, and all hell breaks loose when she announces she is actually Alex and Owen’s long-estranged father. Can Alex accept her mother and father for who they are, rather than who she hoped they would be? And can Alex apply the same philosophy to herself?
This was such a great read! I found myself laughing, crying, and even cringing at some points with things characters said or did. All the characters were wonderfully complex, even some of the more side characters, which I loved.
One of my favourite parts of this story was the main character Alex learning more about herself, even if it wasn’t in the best of circumstance, the aftermath of her mother passing away. She doesn’t make the best decisions throughout the novel – passing up the possibility of a loving relationship, for the rekindling of an old love that wasn’t the healthiest relationship for her. Then she learns from this, and learns more about who she is and who she wants to be in the process.
I loved the narrative voice, Alex’s point of view made interesting, and sometimes comical observations. Her internal thoughts we enlightening too, both into her character and the often bitter and cynical way she sees the world.
One thing reading this novel did for me was make me reflect on my relationship with my own mother. I have been blessed to have the most beautiful woman as my mother. I am so lucky to have her in my life. Alex’s relationship with her own mother was strained at best, though she may have meant well, most of the memories Alex related throughout the story were negative.
Even with Alex’s questionable decisions, and the quite negative narration throughout, this was a heartfelt and beautiful read. Highly recommended for anyone who is after a well thought out read, focused mainly on character development and relationships.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher NineStar Press who sent me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy) in exchange for an honest review. This title was published 2nd August 2021. You can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indie Bookstore.