Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle

Nina’s once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina’s mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina’s got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver’s on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be.

I have some mixed feelings about this book.  There were a lot of great moments for the characters in this book, moments of profound realizations causing personal growth and change.  But, there was so much to muddle through.  After the first third of the book, I will admit to skimming a fair bit, especially during the reflections, memories or fantasies.  I could glean what I needed to quickly and move on to the more important moments.

This story is told from the first person with Nina being that character.  Everything is as she sees and feels it.  Usually I love first person because it allows for such an intimate, emotional connection.  I didn't feel that as strongly in this book even though it seems like I should have.  Nina just didn't feel really personable.  I felt sympathy for her losses and I appreciated when she owned up to her part of the mistakes, but I didn't love her.  I didn't feel emotionally connected to her.

All the characters in this book were dealing with lots of baggage, emotional struggle and dysfunction which made it hard to find and feel that balance of joy that is necessary for me as a reader.  But, so much of this book is true to life.  Life is hard.  Rarely does it turn out like you hope it will.  The struggles sometimes seem to outweigh the joys but the trick is, as this book says, to keep going.  You can change how you look at things and you can adapt to new circumstances.  Thank goodness for second chances.

3/5 stars

Content:  talk of infidelity, mention of sex outside of marriage, some references to alcohol and drug abuse, miscarriage, death, dysfunctional family relations.

- I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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