It was really the emotions that Olivia goes through, from anger and frustration to grief and heartache to all the myriad of feelings that are almost indescribable even to the one feeling them, that captivated me throughout this novel. Emotions are so very personal and we never know how we're going to react to certain situations. Olivia's emotional upheaval felt very real to me, they fluctuate and come and go, they don't even make sense sometimes, which is very true to life.
As for Olivia herself? She's not very likable in the beginning. Yet that's part of her journey, realizing the parts of herself that need changing, and by the end I was solidly on her side. She has a lot of growth to go through and begins to realize how lost she is, how much she cannot do on her own. Her relationship with her parents, especially, is quite turbulent. I have to admit that I didn't really like Olivia's mother. I think that was the point, but she reacted so judgmentally. I really wanted her to see that how she was acting was not coming across as loving at all, hence why Olivia reacted so strongly in retaliation. But Ruthy, Olivia's grandmother, on the other hand? I loved her! She was a breath of fresh air every time she entered the scene, imparting wisdom and truth into her granddaughter's life. Working through her family relationships is not easy and requires much patience as each step forward seems to come with a half step back. But little by little, Olivia's chaos begins to settle and I was happy to see it!
Ms. Allan's writing flows easily, although I did think some of the flashback scenes, especially in the beginning, got a little confusing since we jumped back and forth between them and present day with not much explanation. As the story went on, things smoothed out a little better, which I appreciated. The romance is quiet and in the background, with just enough sweetness to keep me grinning. I liked Evan quite a bit! All in all, it's a simple story with lots of layers. As they peel back one by one, there is a lot of heart to be found and enjoyed! :)
**I received a complimentary copy from the author via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
If God were as compassionate as my mother believed Him to be, then He'd dole out tragedy on a rotating basis. You'd stand in line, then He'd reach into His bushel of adversity, hand one over, and you'd go to the back of the long stretch of mankind. You'd have time to deal with it, dress it in different clothes, ignore it, shove it someplace in your heart before your number was up again.
I didn't cry.
Because when someone knew that all the chaos in your spirit was reflected in the mess that surrounded you and quietly restored your dignity, how else could you thank them?
"I really believe it's true...what my sister says about people coming along to help. They're not always who we expect them to be, but they show up."