Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: It's You by Jane Porter

When you have suffered the unimaginable, how do you find the strength to go on? In Jane Porter's newest novel, It's You, main character Dr. Alison McAdams has been facing this question, unable to answer it for over a year. She is emotionally frozen by the completely unexpected suicide of her fiance Andrew one year prior.  She's just barely hanging on, continuing to work in Andrew's father's dental practice, and going through the motions of life. When her father, who lives in a retirement community in Napa, calls to tell her that he fell and broke his wrist, she must take a leave from work and go check on him, despite her reluctance and their heretofore distant relationship. She was much closer to her mother but when her mother dies within months of Andrew, Ali is hit with a double whammy and left with only the father with whom she has never quite connected to fill the double hole in her heart. But the father she finds is not the father she remembers from before her mother's death. This version of her dad is extremely social and connected to others in his retirement community, especially his prickly, elderly bridge partner, Edie.

As Alison watches her father in his new life, she is forced to face her own new life.  She forges her own connections with his friends, listening to them talk about their history, both personal and general. As she listens, she starts to open herself to caring for others again, learning the inevitability of loss and grief but also the power and endurance of love. She is most inspired by the nonagenarian Edie, who has herself lived through unimaginable loss. Narrated in turn by both Ali and Edie, the novel flips from the present to WWII and back again. Once Ali and Edie make their tenuous connection to each other, Edie doles out the story of her past and her beloved husband Franz in small dibs and dabs, testing the water to see if Ali can be open-minded hearing about her love story with a Nazi officer. As the story unspools and Ali comes to understand the unexpected depths of it, she learns by example how to find the strength to start over and to really examine what she wants out of her life.

The characters are richly developed and Ali for sure shows a large amount of personal growth. Porter has done a good job organically weaving in the unusual angle of the German Resistance and the 20 July Plot into a story line centered on love, healing, and looking forward. There is just a tiny hint of potential romance here, making it firmly women's fiction with historical overtones rather than a romance. For longtime Porter readers, there is a brief mention and cameo of a previous character from one of her older novels as well. The story overall is a sad, often depressing, one centered on loss and grief and being left behind but, in the end, it also offers hope for the future, for repairing relationships, and for the peace that comes with forgiveness or understanding. The reasons for Andrew's suicide are never fully explored but the resulting effect on Ali's life is unmistakable, regardless of his reasons. Ali and Edie's relationship often feels tentative, making it seem a bit strange that this very private woman opens up and shares her unhappy past with this young woman she isn't always certain she likes (and who she certainly doesn't want for her great-nephew). But the emotional impact of Edie's tale, her lost love and the way she chose to live her life beyond it, is the only thing that helps Ali re-evaluate her own stasis. The novel is a very quick read, one that is a generally satisfying addition to your summer reading.

For more information on Jane Porter and the book, visit her webpage, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Instagram or Twitter. Check out the book's GoodReads page. For others' opinions on the book, check it out on Amazon.

Thanks to the publisher and BookSparks PR for sending me a copy of the book for review.

1 comment:

  1. I like stories told in alternate names and times and this one sounds a particularly good story. Thank you for the review.


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