- File Size: 15792 KB
- Print Length: 369 pages
- Publisher: Forever; Reprint edition (May 5, 2020)
- Publication Date: May 5, 2020
- Sold by: Hachette Book Group
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07XCSRD2K
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #916,511 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$15.99|
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The Book of Second Chances Kindle Edition
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|Length: 369 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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The novel opens with a magazine interview. Catriona Robinson is a beloved Children's Book author who has been both reclusive and elusive for years. Her grand-daughter, Emily, is the illustrator of all the popular titles in a collection of stories about a wheelchair bound girl, Ophelia, and her constant companion, a duck in Wellie boots, who embark on many adventures together. Ophelia is based in part on Emily, who was badly injured in a car accident at the age of 13; an accident that killed her parents and left Emily with a long, painful recovery. Catriona has raised her grand-daughter in the subsequent 15 years. Now, Catriona is dying of cancer. This will be her last interview. She hints at a new book in the works... one that Emily may finish.
No spoilers, but Catriona has (unknown to Emily) planned a sort of treasure hunt for her grand-daughter as a requirement to inheriting her estate. Emily can't refuse; the home they've lived in will be lost to her if she doesn't follow her deceased grandmother's clues, leaving Emily nowhere to go. She knows Catriona planned this to get her out of the small, secluded life she's had since the accident. Emily discovers she's to have a companion on this hunt, a boy who was her best friend in childhood, now a young man with troubles of his own. Each clue is accompanied by a few pages of Catriona's journals throughout the years, giving Emily a glimpse into a life she knew nothing about.
As mentioned, it's very well written. "The Book of Second Chances" had this reader turning pages, not wanting to put it down. Yet something just felt "off" to me. Thinking about it for a few days, I've finally hit on the problem. Every main character in this novel is tremendously self-absorbed. It was impossible (for me) to relate to that, which made the characters difficult to connect with. I've no doubt this will become a much praised book. I imagine it will wind up with countless glowing reviews. We're all entitled to our own tastes and opinions, which is why I'm rating this 3 stars... mainly for the quality of writing. Not, though, for the characters. I'm even willing to overlook a few implausible parts. As always, your mileage may vary.
She then goes to live with her grandmother, a writer, in a cottage by the sea in a quiet village. She has always loved to draw and is very good at it. Her grandmother would make up stories for her and she would draw them. This turned into a series of popular children’s books with grandma doing the writing while she did all the illustrations.
Time went on and the girl turned into a young woman. But the grandma became sick and there were no more books. Eventually, the grandmother died, and the young woman’s world fell apart. She was still in torment and grief over her parents’ death ten years prior. Now the only other person she loved was also gone.
In the midst of this almost unbearable anguish and loneliness she was informed that she had to find what her grandmother left, or she would not inherit anything. She would be penniless and when the lease was up in only 10 days, she would be homeless if she didn’t get the inheritance in time to pay it.
And so she begins a treasure hunt, receiving clues from packages her grandmother had left with various people in different countries. Each package contained a clue to where she would find the next one. As she would figure out the clues, more and more painful memories came out.
During this quest she learns about what her grandmother was like as a person when she was young. What her life was like and some of reasons why she made the choices she did. At times the feelings of sadness and loss of her grandmother, her parents, and her own life not truly lived overwhelm her making her want to give up. Guilt hit her hard too as she realized that while she had lost her mother, her grandmother had lost her daughter, something she had not considered before.
I admit I cried a lot reading this. But it is more than a story of loss, it is also of great love, and the importance of being true to yourself and living with no regrets.
I try to read at least 50 pages before deciding a book isn't for me. I feel like 50 pages is a good amount of time spent invested in making an effort to care about the characters and the story. Sadly, I didn't really care for either. This is an overly twee, hand-holdy book about a young woman whose grandmother leaves her a posthumous scavenger hunt. The young woman in question is disabled, anxious, and has agoraphobia-- and since she's orphaned, as well, her grandmother is literally the only person she had in the world. So, perfect. Granny is going to torture her from beyond the grave and call it character development. *slow clap* Bravo.
You might enjoy this if you like preciously written works of women's fiction. I, however, do not. I think the cover is lovely and the premise of a book-about-books with an introvert with a disability who has relatable interests and passions (books! drawings!) should have been great, but it missed the mark for me.
Maybe not for you?
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
1.5 to 2 out of 5 stars