This book was received from the Author in return for an honest review
Ben and Caroline barely recognize each other any more. Their once solid relationship now broken and beaten by unfathomable events, leaving only a shell of past promise. When pressure cracks the last vestiges of their bond, Ben hastily leaves their Southern California home, pointing the car east to what he hopes is the edge of the Earth. After driving until he can no further, he settles in the small, coastal town of Swintonport, Maine to lose himself in quiet and anonymity, renting the quaint guesthouse of Maggie and her ten-year-old daughter, Smoof. But when tragedy strikes his landlord’s family, Ben is confronted with a sobering truth reminiscent of the one he left behind.
Firstly can I say how utterly obsessed I am with the character Smoof in this book. She is all of ten years old and possibly one of the most startling and intriguing child characters I’ve come across in a while. She absolutely made this book for me. Her clever one liners, her bristly attitude, the absolute sorrow that surrounds her life, her deep down gentle thoughtful interior. She really was beautifully written.
What struck me with the adult characters in this book was how well the intricacies of human shortcomings were portrayed. How decisions made, right or wrong can impact lives, how not communicating, or being afraid or unable to communicate can create divides in relationships that are sometimes unable to be repaired. How people, no matter their age, profession or lives can end up in a place that they never in a million years thought that they’d be (in this case for Ben at least, this is literal as well as figurative) How sometimes life is just not fair, and people don’t always bounce back. These characters sometimes had me hating them, they definitely did not all redeem themselves 100% by the end of the book. That was how it was supposed to be though, the realness of it. Life doesn’t ever just get resolved and end up in a tidy package; just like characters don’t always learn every lesson they need to and become better people from it.
The story kept up a good pace, the only parts I felt myself slowing down a bit were the chapters where the history of the town Swintonport was being explored. It forced my mind to change gears and it felt like I was delving into a different story. I don’t think that this was necessarily a ‘bad’ move as far as the flow of the book went, I just think I was so invested in the main characters that I wanted to get back to it. A positive aspect of these historical chapters were by the time I had finished the book I almost felt like I was a ‘local’. I had most certainly been schooled on the subject and it made the place so much more than just a canvas for the characters to play out their stories on.
Before I finish this review I have to mention the prologue in this book. I loved it. In fact I’ve read it again since finishing the book. It was the perfect way to begin the story and it really captured me from the first few sentences…
“…And, oh yeah, your mother can be a real asshole,” Ben’s father said, like he forgot to put it on a grocery list. A simple aside. Just like that.
By the end of this book I had resolution in most areas, yet a million questions in others, the book was finished but I hadn’t quite come to terms with it. If I was a cat, curiosity would’ve killed me. But I know this wasn’t an over the top HEA type of book, and I actually don’t mind that fact…that’s life! Like I said, not everything ends up in a tidy package.