*The publisher St. Martin’s Press sent me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Andi marries Ethan in her late 30s, but she’s glad she waited. She and Ethan are in love, and for the first time, Andi knows she’s with the right guy. The only thing lacking is a child of her own, and Ethan isn’t overly concerned as he already has two daughters, Sophia and Emily. Sophia adores Andi and has from the first time they met. Emily is another story. The first time she sees Ethan hold Andi’s hand, she shoves Andi out of the way, without a word of rebuke from Ethan. Andi wants Emily to, if not love her, accept her, but the harder Andi tries, the less Emily warms to her. Tension escalates as Emily enters adolescence and begins drinking and sneaking in at all hours. Andi doesn’t feel it’s her place to correct Emily, and Ethan is so fearful of losing Emily’s affection that he consistently fails to take up for Andi, pitting the two women against one another. When Emily gets pregnant, it will bring Andi’s marriage and her family to the breaking point, and she’s not sure she can take any more.
Is this book typical for me? Not at all. It has a pink cover, y’all. WITH a heart. However, I was in the mood for something a little different.
Did I want to ring Emily’s neck? You guys. This little youknowwhat so had it coming. Andi tried so hard to be there for her, and Emily just kept figuratively slapping her in the face. It was really difficult to watch Andi take so much crap over and over again.
What did I think of Ethan, who allowed his daughter to act this way? Gah. It’s rough because you could see how torn he was. He loves his wife. He loves his daughter. He gets to the point where he’s so incredibly frustrated that he just shuts down, and honestly, I can see how easily this could happen. He’s a good guy. He’s a loving husband and father, but he just cannot deal with these women.
So…overall impressions? I enjoyed this book. As a 30-year-old woman who hopes to someday marry, the idea of stepchildren is horrifying. This book did not lessen that. I admire people who mesh families and do it well because I can see how I would just out and out hate Emily. She’s as cruel as only a teenager can be, and it would be so difficult to feel as if you could not discipline a child who lived in your house and acted that way.
However, parts of this book I struggled with because of the unusual storytelling style. The novel is written in present tense, which usually doesn’t bother me, but it was pretty annoying here. Plus, the entire first half of the novel was told from Andi’s perspective. Suddenly, halfway through, the narrator begins to switch between Andi and Emily. Well, by that time, I pretty much couldn’t stand Emily and had no desire to hear what she had to say, and in my mind, she never redeemed herself enough that I enjoyed her narrative voice. She’s incredibly selfish whereas Andi, though she does make some mistakes, is largely generous and loving. Had Emily’s narrative voice come in sooner, it may have changed my feelings of INTENSE HATRED, though I’m not sure it really would have. The thing is, I know there are people out there just like her, so it’s really not far-fetched at all.
And last but certainly not least, did this book include salsa dancing? YES! If you don’t know, I love to salsa dance. I’ve been dancing for years and love a salsa club. Green includes a great scene where Andi and her friends go dancing, and it was perfect. She says, and I quote, “Dark, and sweaty, and filled with dark good-looking men eyeing the women up and down, they realized quickly that what was missing from these clubs was a threat. The men weren’t eyeing the women seductively, but rather to see who was a good dance, whom they would choose next, not as a lover, but merely a partner in the sensual beat.” This is what I love about salsa dancing. Going to a salsa club is a unique experience. You’re judged, not by how tiny your skirt is or how much boobage is hanging out, but by how you dance. It’s an amazing feeling, and I love that guys will ask you to dance, smile and dance with you and then settle you back in your seat with no expectation. It’s. Amazing.
So all in all, this book was outside my normal reading experience, but I enjoyed it. AND, the nice people at St. Martin’s Press have kindly offered a giveaway copy as the book is out this week. Leave me a comment telling me if you have any cruel stepmother/stepfather/stepchildren stories, and I’ll pick a winner by Sunday at midnight!
UPDATE: Giveaway closed. Congrats to brn2shop for winning! An email has been sent to you with instructions on how to claim your copy.