Fans of Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin are sure to fall in love with Katherine Center's most heartwarming and engaging novel yet-about how even losing the most important thing in your life can help you find yourself again. After the sudden loss of her husband in a car crash, Libby Moran falls on hard times-so hard, in fact, that she's forced to move in with her hyper-critical mother. There, sleeping on the pull-out sofa so her two children can share the guest room, she can't stop longing for the life she had. So when a letter arrives from Libby's estranged aunt offering her a job and a place to live on her goat farm, Libby jumps at the opportunity. But starting over is never easy. With an aunt who is nothing like she imagined, a shaggy farm manager with a tragic past, a psychic at the feed store who claims to be able to contact the dead, and a bully at her daughter's school, country life isn't at all what Libby expected. But it also offers her what no other place can: A chance to define the good life for herself. A chance to piece together the mysteries of her own past. A chance, even, at love. And, finally, a chance to bring herself, and her family, back to life.
Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: August 1st 2013 by Ballantine Books (first published July 15th 2013)
Three and a half stars: A book about bullying and starting over.
Tired after a long day of standing on her feet working at the bank, Libby is biting her tongue trying not to fly off the handle at her mother. Since her husband died three years ago, Libby and her two kids have been living with her overbearing mother. Then her Aunt Jean sends her a letter out of the blue offering her a place to live if she will come and help her work the goat farm. Libby's mother vehemently protest and that fuels Libby to pack up and head to the country. Can Libby and her kids start over and leave behind the past?
What I Liked:
- This is a book all about letting go of the baggage in the past and starting over. It is a great read for anyone looking to climb out and make a fresh new beginning. I enjoyed the realistic and relatable characters and appreciated watching them grow and change.
- I appreciated that this book presented many conflicts that most people deal with on a regular basis. Bullying, in particular, is an ongoing theme as Libby's young daughter is being taunted by a fellow student. Libby herself even experiences some adult bullying. I liked that bullying was a strong theme in this one and I especially enjoyed how Abby learned to stand up and take on her bully. At the end, there is a particularly funny scene where O'Connor, the love interest, confronts the second grade bully and things get a bit heated and out of hand. Even though his reaction isn't exactly appropriate, it is funny and it warmed my heart to see him stand up for the little girl. It made me giggle. Aside from bullying, this book takes on issues such as conflict in mother daughter relationships, confronting your past, overcoming grief and finding your path to a new beginning. Not everything resolves wish a happily ever after, but that is true of real life. I appreciated the journey.
- The romance in this one is subtle and slow. It involves two people who are trying to overcome loss. It starts out shaky as Libby views O'Connor as a shaggy muppet man. The two become friends as they work the goat farm, and eventually an attraction builds. There are plenty of bumps in the road, but in the end it is sweet and satisfying.
- I loved the quiet goat farm setting. Libby leaves behind her life and moves to the country. She settles in on the farm with her Aunt Jean, a down to earth, hippie. Life on the farm involves living organic and there isn't even tv or internet. I fell in love with the goat farm and I thought the names of the goats were hilarious. They are named after famous women in history.
- Finally I liked that even though this was an issue book, that it wasn't overly dramatic and heavy. The subject matter doesn't weigh down the book and it for the most part is a pleasant light read without the heavy angst that is so popular right now. If you are looking for a contemporary that is on the lighter side, this is a good pick. It is certainly a appropriate for a beach read.
And The Not So Much:
- In the beginning, a local girl named Sunshine tells Libby she can help her contact her lost husband. I thought there was going to be a bit of paranormal as the two attempt to hold a seance, but nothing comes of this. I was actually relieved that there weren't any ghostly encounters, but I was confused over the storyline. It really doesn't go anywhere.
- There is a major conflict between Libby's mother and her Aunt Jean. The reason for the fight between the women is revealed toward the end. I was honestly expecting some type of resolution between the two women, but it doesn't happen. I understand that often in real life disagreements aren't rectified. I guess I was just hoping for a bit more regarding this issue. I would certainly like to know more about how Jean actually felt toward Libby's mother. Furthermore, when Libby learns the truth about her past she confronts her mother and it is a bit of a fizzle, nothing really changes in the mother daughter relationship.
- There was one scene in the book where Libby encounters her own adult bully. I was disappointed that she didn't step up and take control of the situation. I hated seeing her take the cowardly way out.
The Lost Husband is a nice contemporary book that takes on some important issues such as bullying, grief, and starting over. If you are looking for a read that is a bit on the lighter side, but has some substance check this out. The subject matter isn't overly dramatic and it has a nice romance that will leave you smiling.
"However, the trouble with getting what you've always wanted is that once you have it, you have to worry that you'll lose it."
"A good man buys you tampons when you run out. He does the dishes. He makes you coffee before you're awake in the morning. He listens to you when you're talking, even if it's about home decor. He goes out of his way to touch you, even if it's just your hand. He doesn't call it 'babysitting' when he looks after his own children. He calls you from work just to hear your voice. And he always thinks you're beautiful, even---no, especially---when you don't."
"A good man does the right thing, even when it just about kills him."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.