Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
Trigger warning: Book gives a lengthy (and much appreciated) trigger warning for suicide and mental health.
Not to much to say here. I liked the ideas behind this book much more than the actual book. The first 30 pages had me exciting and then it just turned into a not so cohesive romance novel. I think if Watson had either just decided to just do a straight up women’s fiction book, maybe that would have worked better for her. Trying to center the romance in this one just didn’t make sense, and a few times I was like this feels manipulative as anything. I just wish we had focused on Kyle’s journey to deal with her depression. Also I have to say parts of the book did not feel very realistic at all. And I don’t know, I just started getting annoyed with Kyle’s character because I started to find her just as manipulative as others in this book. I also couldn’t even tell you her age because sometimes she feels like a middle aged woman, and other times it’s like she just came out of high school. I dithered between 2 and 3 stars, but honestly couldn’t justify the 3 stars in my own head.
“Closer to Okay” follows Kyle Davies who is currently an inpatient at a mental health facility called Hope House. Kyle has her routine and gets up and makes meals for the other three patients (Joey, Mary, and Eddie) and finds herself watching the coffee shop across the road. During one of her day passes, she goes to the coffee shop (called The Coffee Shop) and finds herself drinking the best cup of flat white she has ever had. And she starts to dream about baking again and doing something else. When she starts to go to the shop more regularly, she gets to know the worker/owners there Jamie and Jackson. Kyle is still in recovery though and has to deal with the warnings from not only herself, but also her doctor, Dr. Booth about developing romantic feelings for Jackson and how it could wreck her recovery.
As I said at the top, I still don’t know how old Kyle is. At one point she mentions going to culinary school and she was trained as a pastry chef. But I am still confused. The book doesn’t do a great job of letting us know her backstory (which was a mistake). We find out in fits and starts about her mother and grandmother. And we find out what caused her to end up at Hope House. But I just didn’t get what was going on with her because things with her constantly change. And I don’t even know why she had “feelings” for Jackson. And it makes zero sense when we get an info depth about her past “relationships” so I was like what is going on here? I don’t know, I think Watson wanted to play both sides of showing that Kyle wasn’t ready for a relationship yet, but LOVE or something.
Dr. Booth is written as a villain, but I am really confused what Watson was thinking of when writing this character. At times he seems quite malevolent and I think it was being set up that he had darker intentions, but then nope not at all. I was just wondering if she meant to write him as a mini-tyrant or what. He’s all encompassing at one point in the story and then he just fizzles out. I also have questions about how he can decide where a patient works and keeps their cash, but I decided to just let that part go.
Jackson didn’t work for me at all. Probably because he’s written one way and all of a sudden he’s just so drawn to Kyle. It didn’t make sense to me. And then when he’s realizing that hey maybe starting a relationship with someone who tried to commit suicide and is still having PTSD over it is not a good idea, he’s treated like a bad person. I don’t know. I just shook my head. The subplot with his shop and father just took away too much of the main story.
Jackson’s dad was another character written as a villain with zero depth.
We also get characters like Mary, Joey, Eddie, Trace, etc. that we don’t spend much time with. They just felt like plot devices after a while and that made me sad. I think if the romance had been nixed then maybe Watson could have spent more time making every character feel “real.”
The writing in the book at times was quite lyrical. Watson will describe a cup of coffee that Kyle is having and I wanted to find this mythical shop and set up with a book and a blanket. It sounded like a dream. But then that’s it. The rest of the book falls flat. I don’t even know what Kyle looks like. I just realized that. There’s no description of her, or really anyone else. I just realized that I went back and forth on Eddie’s race (still no idea) and that’s what was bugging me while reading. I could not picture anyone so just went back and forth on what people looked like.
The flow was pretty bad. The book just stop and starts. And when we get to a key point in Kyle’s recovery the book just goes on and on and it just seems like it’s moving in a different direction, but nope.
The setting of the book takes place mostly at Hope House and The Coffee Shop. They are not that interesting unfortunately. I realized after the fact that the city this is taking place in is Chicago. There’s the mention of the El so that was the only thing that clued me in. I stupidly thought at one point maybe this was taking place in London.
The ending of the book just kind of ends. I don’t even know what to say. I thought maybe my ARC was missing pages, but nope, the book just stops.