Ah, summer. The time for sitting on the beach or by the pool with a good book, soaking in the sun, and just relaxing. Or so goes the theory. Personally, I love curling up with a good book any time of year, but summer is my favorite. When I read, it is my downtime, my escape from the pressures of everything that has to be done now. It allows me to recharge my batteries.
Needless to say, I read a lot. I average at least two to three books a week - more if I have some "extra" time.
Because reading is my relaxation, I generally prefer books that are on the lighter side. They don't need to be brain candy - although I'm definitely not opposed to that - but I love a good fiction. I had the opportunity recently to read Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda thanks to the One2One Network, and I really enjoyed it.
The novel shares Kelly Mills Johnson's midlife crisis. She's thirty-nine and vaguely unhappy with her life, frustrated with where she is but not quite sure where she wants to go or what she wants to do. Her sons are at camp, and her husband is busy with his career, while her friends have perfect lives she envies. The premise to me sounded rife for lots of whining and complaining. I wasn't sure if I would like this, afraid it would be a downer.
I was surprised that I really enjoyed it. Kelly is not your typical protagonist. She may be vaguely unhappy with her life, but she doesn't just whine about it. She has spunk and is forthright with herself, with plenty of wit and sarcasm to keep me interested in her. She isn't a perfect size six, and her goal isn't to become one - something I found refreshing. Her marriage wasn't in trouble, and her husband was refreshingly supportive - while being realistically clueless periodically. Let's just say I'd enjoy hanging out with Kelly.
As she decides to reinvent her life, she creates a "Things to Change" (T2C) list on Post-It Notes that she places throughout her life. They range from remembering her blessings to yelling without crying (when in a disagreement) to not comparing herself to others. So many of the items on her list are ones that we all need to focus on more and live by, and this book was a great way to put it all in perspective.
Kelly didn't, of course, simply make the T2C list. She put it into action. She wasn't successful with all the items immediately, nor did she stick to any given one all the time. That simply made her more human, along with her hair angst and other personality quirks that made her so easy to relate to. I know I've been there!
As she worked on her T2C list, she began to find that she wasn't so much a victim. She had a lot of power and a lot going for her, and things began to fall into place because of how she was taking charge of her life. I found it inspiring, as there are so many times I feel that way myself - vaguely dissatisfied but not quite sure what to do next. Kelly took that leap, and her gambles repaid themselves in so many ways from becoming so much closer and more open with her friends to finding her passion and being able to run with it to finally telling off that mom who consistently finds little things to nit pick with everyone.
The novel isn't perfect, but that's part of what makes it so enjoyable. It doesn't go in the direction you expect it to, but the reactions of the characters to each of the situations is definitely realistic. Granted, some of the situations are a little out there and unrealistic, but hey - it's a novel. And I enjoyed it enough that I'll seek out her other two novels this summer as I'm looking for something to read.
Want to buy the book yourself? You can also follow Kaira Rouda on Twitter or like her on Facebook.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of "Here, Home, Hope" for review purposes only. I have not received any compensation, and as always, all opinions expressed remain my own.