Title: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Genre: women’s fiction
Is this part of a series? No.
Publish Date: May 15th, 2018
Gina lost her husband and best friend, Drew, two years ago. Her sister Victoria has been a great help with trying to heal and being a sounding board; with the help of Grilled G’s- the food truck Drew fixed up for her- she might just look normal. Looks can be deceiving. She’s broken to the point of keeping his shirt in a zip lock baggie, keeping his old cell active so that she can hear him. She knows she has to be strong, that May needs her…. and so she won’t allow herself to grieve in front of her daughter, instead giving space.
May lost her best friend too- her father. The man that taught her how to take apart an engine and put it back together. The level head of the family. Her support system. Regina won’t even talk about him! She has lists upon list to get through the day, but as far as May can see her daughter’s name isn’t on any of them.
Victoria was always the good daughter- the one that did as expected. She married Jeff, as her parents wanted and had four children that she loves, even as they exhaust her. She keeps the peace and keeps her head down- isn’t that what one does in exchange for security? She can’t help thinking about what she missed though, a deep and crazy love like Gina had with her Drew. When secrets come out, she has to decide what’s most important.
Lorraine has spent a lifetime covering up her secrets. When she and Floyd married she knew there would be certain expectations. She would bring him into the Milwaukee society, give him a perfect family, act as his hostess, never rock the boat. Even after his death, she was too terrified of the fall out to give up her secrets. A stroke brings to the forefront what she’s done. Watching her daughters, unable to talk to them- to explain…. she finally understands that she needs to come clean; but how? As these women’s lives come together, a story comes together of love, joy, grief and the different ways to let go.
This book broke me. Each character is a well developed disaster. You can’t help but be pulled into their drama, dreams and regrets. Each one is multifaceted and oddly easy to love. I know I say this in a lot of my reviews- it’s honestly one of the top things I look for in a book- can I identify with these characters? Are they well developed? These things are important to me as I read to fall into a different world- escaping work, stress and boredom to give myself to a set of characters for however long I have. I also read to learn about new places or ideas… but mostly it’s been my escape since I was an overly-angsty pre teen.
But I digress. The story is told in three points of view- Gina, Lorraine and May with gorgeous flash backs and memories. Now, I have a bit of issue here. The transition between POV’s is flawless. The story flows smoothly from one very different voice to another. I was disappointed that Victoria didn’t have a chapter though. She is pivotal to the story, a support system for May and Regina as well as loving (if crazed) daughter of Lorraine. The secret touches her just as deeply as the others. Plus, she has her own things going down, but we never get to see into her mind. I cannot help but feel like this is a missed opportunity… unless of course she’s getting her own story? Unlikely, but a girl can dream.
Still, this is a beautifully written, sweet story that shows the strength of family, and the art of forgiveness and letting go. I loved it. I am most likely buying it for my own library as well as several copies for friends and family. Five stars!!!
On the adult content scale there’s language, drinking and some very mild sexual content. I would still let my niece read it, so I would give it a four.
I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Gallery books in exchange for an honest review. My thanks.
The book comes out 5-15-18- who’s excited?!?!
Link to book: