I picked this one up based on badkittyuno’s review. All of those novels she mentioned (I downloaded two of them because they are also on Kindle Unlimited) sounded like the comfort food version of reading. Sweet, hopeful, happy endings, not too challenging, and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon if ultimately forgettable.
Three years ago, Amy Byler’s husband did not come home from a business trip to Hong Kong. It would be one thing if he had left, but he also neglected to continue to provide any financial support or child support, leaving Amy with tuition fees for two children and a mortgage. After a minor breakdown, she gets a job as the school librarian (employee discount!), and picks up the pieces. She makes it all work, but she has been so focused on making ends meet that she has not had much time for fun or distractions. Plus, she might kind of enjoy having a bit of a martyr status.
Now, her husband John is back and he wants to rebuild his relationship with his children, who are 12 and 15. While her daughter Cori at first wants nothing to do with her absentee father, her son Joe is the kind and reasonable one in the family, so they agree to a dinner. John wants one week with the kids, a chance to reconnect. Amy lets her children convince her, and decides to use the opportunity to attend an educational development conference in New York and reconnect with an old friend. She also has to present at the conference for it to count, and chooses to talk about her program she established to get her students interested in reading.
Amy’s presentation creates some interest, and she ends up making new friends as a result as they try to brainstorm how to apply her program to a wider set of students at schools with fewer resources. Her friend, the magazine editor, is also using Amy for a make over feature, so she gets the opportunity to have a dream vacation, which ends up extended when her ex and children ask for more time.
Amy is a complicated and real character who doesn’t always know how she feels or how to react to things. As much as she loves her children, this time alone makes her realize how much she has revolved her life around them, and again, given the circumstances she didn’t have much choice. However, now it looks like she might have the support available to relax and focus on herself without neglecting her children, and she isn’t entirely sure how she feels about that or how she should define herself going forward.
I wouldn’t recommend this novel to everyone, but it is a nice reliable read for someone that just wants a nice novel about real people. Amy’s vacation is definitely not real but the idea that changes in circumstances can cause someone to reevaluate their life and maybe make some adjustments for the better is certainly a comforting thought.