Sunday, 27 September 2015

'If You Only Knew' by Kristan Higgins: A Book Review

Wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate understands the happily-ever-after business, yet somehow she's still involved in her ex-husband's life. In fact, Owen's new wife may—inexplicably—be Jenny's new best friend. Sensing this, well, relationship isn't helping her move on, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she'll be able to bask in her sister Rachel's picture-perfect family life…and hopefully make one of her own.

Her timing couldn't be more perfect, since Rachel will need her younger sister. Her idyllic marriage has just fallen to pieces in spectacular fashion after she discovers her husband sexting with one of his colleagues. Second chances aren't in Rachel's nature, but the desire for an intact family has her rethinking her stance on adultery, much to Jenny's surprise. Rachel points to their parents' "perfect" marriage as a shining example, but to protect her sister Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a secret about their family she's been keeping since childhood.

During this summer of secrets and lies, temptation and revelation, Jenny and Rachel will rely on each other to find the humor in their personal catastrophes, the joy in their triumphs…and the strength to keep hanging on.

Dang it, how does Kristan Higgins do it, every single time? I don't think I've gotten through any book of hers without laughing out loud or wiping tears of joy from my eyes. Seriously, how does she do it?

If You Only Knew is Kristan's first women's fiction novel. When I found out that this wasn't strictly a romance, I was... a little confused. Most of her books, in spite of being romance-centric, involve a lot of family drama, too. So how would this book be any different?

Well, this story is said from the perspective of both sisters, Jenny and Rachel, each with their own set of problems. In Jenny's case, she can't seem to detach herself from her ex-husband, his wife... and their bouncing new baby. That she helped deliver.
As for Rachel, her husband - and the father of her three triplet daughters - is a cheating bastard. And yet she can't help loving him. 

I'm not married, and I don't think I will be for a long time, but I could still relate to this novel because of the element of sisterhood. And family. And unrequited love. And trust issues, because gosh, do I have trust issues. And difficulty detaching myself from people who've hurt me. I could relate to Jenny and Rachel on so many different levels. 

In spite of dealing with comparatively serious issues, the book has its share of laugh-out-loud moments, especially the ones involving Jenny's new neighbour, Leo. Yep, you guessed it. He's one of my book boyfriends now. He's gorgeous, he loves classical music - and he teaches piano to poor kids for free.

I loved Jenny and Leo's sweet, innocent romance. I hated Adam (Rachel's stupid husband) with every fibre of my being. I loved the way Rachel grew throughout the novel, from the shy and submissive wife to the woman who knew what she wanted and wasn't afraid to go for it.
I loved how the points of view changed right when something big happened and I'd have to wait another chapter to find out the consequences.
And I felt so lonely when the book ended, because I didn't want it to. And that's the power of a good book, Geeks.

"You didn't break my heart," I say. "You filled it up. And I do love you, but I also understand what you can and can't do. I just hope I'm a happy memory for you. That's what you are for me. I'll always think of you and smile and be glad that I was with you and got to know you."

However, some things - some subplots - were left unsaid. What happens with Owen at the end? What about Gus? And the triplets? I understand that we readers can't get everything, but... some more closure would have been nice, maybe in the form of an epilogue.

I'm going to go with 4 stars out of 5 for this one.
Hilarious, heartfelt and heartbreaking, If You Only Knew is one of Kristan Higgins' best. If you're a sister, mother, daughter or wife, you need to pick this one up.

Have you read this book yet, Geeks? Does it sound like something you'd like? Who's your favourite contemporary author? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time. Bye! :)

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