I won this gem on Goodreads – my first big name win, and though it released this month and I got an ARC, I received it after the release date. This was in no way a fault of the giveaway, I think I actually won it on the 2nd or 3rd, so I received it in a timely manner and was so very excited to get it at all!
I’d heard a good deal about Hoffman’s writing, so I was pleased to win something of hers. I’d never picked up anything by Hoffman before, mostly since I’m not a huge fiction buff, but I’m glad that I had the chance to read her. From what I’ve heard about her well known novels, I think that this one may be a bit of a disappointment to fervent Hoffman fans.
TW: car accident, rape, suicide attempt, animal death, cancer related death.
Also – a lot of spoilers (sorry).
Shelby Richmond is not a wholly believable character – the traumatic accident that she has as a senior in high school leaves her friend Helene in a coma (though I spent a good deal of the first chapter thinking she was dead). Though we never really get a detailed description of what happens in the crash, the reader is to believe that Shelby blames herself for an accident that others say was not her fault. Though the PTSD and trauma are believable, Shelby’s self-loathing comes across as quite overdone, especially in the second half of the book.
I quite enjoyed the instances of animal theft, all of which seemed quite well warranted until the last. Shelby’s propensity to save those around her, be they animal or human, is one of the more believable elements of her character.
There are also several time jumps in the book – a concrete sense of time isn’t present during her relationships with Ben, Harper, or James. Did we really need three relationships? An affair with a married veterinarian who seems to symbolize nothing but a womanizer? Ben returning strictly to show that though Shelby can’t seem to love herself, she is somehow the end-all be-all partner?
Shelby’s education and work took a bit of a backseat compared to the romance, though I appreciated that she was such a strong female protagonist from so many angles. Her career being what drives the final move in the book is a lovely way to draw the story to a close.
I’d also like to say that the rape scene(s) in the early chapters are far too skimmed over, and not entirely necessary to the story. Hoffman beat this protagonist to the ground in ways that seemed unnecessary. Also, why did her dog have to die? Why did her mother have to develop cancer and hide it from Shelby until she was on her deathbed?
Overall, I quite enjoyed the writing of this novel, despite the overactive plots. Shelby, though a hard character to find believable (despite the description one might find on the back cover), is quite loveable, and very dynamic. I would recommend the book with some reserves, but didn’t feel displeased having read it.
I give the book a 7/10.