Laura Klein and her children Darcy and Troy have barely been holding it together since Jack's death. Each has grieved in their own way, but all of them have been unable to face the whole reality of his suicide. Laura was the famous author's editor having shelved her own desire to write many years ago to not only raise their children but to care for and protect Jack himself so that he could write his successful books. Now that he's gone and her own writing is but a distant memory, all she has is their children and she guards them fiercely, transferring her constant vigilance over her husband to her teenagers, even as they push her away. She worries about them inheriting Jack's bipolar disorder, of not being able to protect them from even more hurts and tragedies life throws in everyone's path. Daughter Darcy, a daddy's girl, misses her father desperately but she can't or doesn't want to talk to her mother about her feelings. Instead, she plunges into a relationship with Nick, falling hard for this randy teenaged boy who is at least as troubled as she is. Meanwhile younger brother Troy's feelings about his father's suicide threaten to swamp him and he might be exhibiting the first symptoms of the illness that drove his father to end his own life.
With all of these concerns, Laura doesn't have room in her life for anything else. Except that one of her friends, eager to help Laura move on and to find a supplement to the meager income of residual royalties, is pushing her to rent out Jack's old studio office space as an apartment. And the minute Laura reluctantly acquiesces, the perfect renter appears. Aidan Walsh is a ER doctor new to town and looking for a place to live. That he's incredibly sexy is just an unforeseen bonus, one that Laura has no intention of acknowledging or acting on. But Aidan has made no similar promise to himself, inching his way into the Klein family's life by degrees, offering a solid, caring counterpoint to the constant anticipation of disaster that Jack had always inspired. But Laura might not be ready to relinquish her watchful anticipation and Darcy has less than zero interest in a replacement father.
Thomson has written a touching novel about the trying to find balance even with the threat of mental illness hanging over your head. She's captured the fear and the worry of parenting teenagers and how hard it is to let go, especially when you aren't happy with the choices they're making. Laura as a character is stressed and under pressure, so used to the way life was for so long that she doesn't know how to break out of her protective routine. Her panic at finding herself in a relationship unlike anything she's ever experienced definitely rings true. Her anxiety over her children is understandable but seems to come and go a bit inexplicably. Aidan's character is so patient and understanding and constant that he is just too good to be true. Darcy's defiance, hurt, and anger over what she sees as her father's abandonment is palpable throughout the sections focused on her feelings making her increasingly serious involvement with Nick more troubling by the page. Troy is less than well fleshed out, except in Laura's concern for him.
The Kleins struggle and fight and try to honor their past with Jack even as they search for ways to move forward and to be happy despite his loss. A novel about the ravages of mental illness, of relationships, how we choose to live our lives relative to other people and their importance to us, love, and the second chances life sends our way, this tries to balance two very different storylines, parenting and romance, in just the way that so many people try to balance them both in their lives. And if it's not entirely successful with the integration into one seamless tale, with one aspect continually outweighing the other, it is still a moving read.
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Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.