Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review: Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda

Kelly Johnson is at the dentist's office when she realizes that she is vaguely dissatisfied with her role in life and that she wants to make a change. The problem is that this thirty-nine year old stay at home mom to two teenaged boys, wife to a successful lawyer, and former PR wiz doesn't know what she wants to do when she grows up. She looks at her closest friends, envying the way these two beautiful and professionally successful women seem to have it all. So when her one friend asks her to stage a home, tapping into Kelly's love of decorating and innate flair for design, it seems a career tailor-made for her. As she launches this new business, supported and cheered on by her husband, Kelly discovers that Charlotte and Kathryn's lives are not as golden as she had thought. She agrees to host Kathryn's anorexic teenaged daughter while Kathryn goes off and finds herself. She also discovers that Charlotte's marriage is over and Charlotte has been having an affair. As she tries to be a supportive and caring friend to these two women she loves, she also reconnects with an old friend, Beth, whom she had abandoned long ago, building a tentative bridge between them and enlisting Beth's help with Kathryn's daughter.

There are quite a few plot lines here all dealing with major issues in women's lives: divorce, life change, job loss, anorexia, personal fulfillment, death, friendship, infidelity. And yet most of these issues were skimmed over because they were happening to secondary characters rather than to Kelly. Because of this remove from the spotlight, they didn't feel as well developed as perhaps they deserved. Problems, even these enormous, life altering problems, were too easily resolved. It sounds odd to be advocating for road blocks but their presence would have made the storyline more believable for me. The message here, Kelly's empowerment, is very positive and the tone of the book is upbeat and successful but it falls just a bit shy of realistic. The character Kelly is generally likable although some of her reactions to the situations swirling around her are odd. For instance, wanting to keep an anorexic around her at all times to remind her to eat healthily so she (Kelly) continues to lose weight is rather insensitive and minimizes a too real and very serious disease. Overall, a cheery beach read about women's empowerment, this had a few weaknesses but nothing that a drink with an umbrella couldn't erase.

I won this book on Facebook in a giveaway run by the author.

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