Friday, January 13, 2006

Leaving Normal by Stef Ann Holm

I have read one other book by Stef Ann Holm, Girls Night, and really enjoyed it. So when I saw the DIK review at AAR, I decided to try it. However, I was disappointed that Leaving Night was not nearly as good as GN. And not nearly a DIK. Warning: there may be spoilers here but I couldn't justify my grade without them.

LN is a second chance at love story set in Boise, Idaho. Natalie Goodwin is 43 years old and divorced whose daughter has just started her freshman year of college out of state. After her divorce Natalie decided to follow her dreams and opened a florist shop. Life is going just how she wants it now and she is not interested in dating or a relationship. But she can't help but notice the gorgeous hunk who lives across the street (who is married BTW). That hunk is firefighter Tony Cruz and is 9 years her junior. Oh, yes, and he notices Natalie too, but he is committed to his relationship with his wife so he 'stifles himself'.

Ok, at this point I'm only a few pages into the book and I'm thinking "this is a ROMANCE?" Yep, sure 'nuf, that's what it says on the spine. I can't remember the last time I read a romance where one of the characters was already married to someone else when the book starts. Hmmm, thinking, thinking, thinking. Nope, can't think of one other book. I don't know why, but I continue reading.

Tony's relationship with his wife is not good (of course) and eventually he discovers her cheating on him. So they separate and divorce. Now I'm at the halfway point of the book and this is where the book should have started because nothing much interesting happens (except Tony's breakup and I could have done without that).

Eventually Tony and Natalie start dating and fall in love but Tony wants children and Natalie feels she is past that point in her life. By the end of the book things have worked out to everyone's satisfaction (except mine). Now normally I love older woman/younger man stories and the 9 year age gap didn't bother me. If the author had cut out the first half until Tony was divorced, I would have liked it much better.

I thought the characters were well drawn and deep. I enjoyed the secondary characters including Natalie's daughter and father. The best part of the book was the look inside the Boise Fire Department that shows how they care for the people they serve. Unfortunately, this book was too much like chick lit (I'm not a big fan) and much of the book was just filler. And the ending was way to conveniently perfect ::gag:: and not realistic.

My grade: C-

5 comments:

CindyS said...

Just from your description it sounds exactly like a chicklit and I would be pissed going into a book thinking it is a romance only to find out, it's not close.

Believe it or not, there is a Jennifer Cruisie book where in the opening scene of the story the Heroine discovers her husband has been cheating on her. In Chapter 2 an old high shool boyfriend knocks on the door. I think I re-read the backblurb at this point to find out who the hero was and it was going to be the old high school boyfriend which meant, *I* was about to go through a divorce with the heroine. I put the book down and never picked it back up again. I have heard that it is not many people's favourite book.

CindyS (who thinks a romance can start after the divorce is final. I don't need to be there while it is playing out) Sorry, again, long winded.

ReneeW said...

Exactly! A romance should start after the divorce. I don't want to go through all the angst while it's happening. And I remember reading that Cruise years ago and disliking it intensely. I think it's 'Tell Me Lies' (not sure).

Jay said...

See to me that sounds more like women's fiction. Maybe it's just the chick lit I read, but in my opinion chick lit tends to be more upbeat and fluffy than a divorce would reasonably allow.

How did they resolve the baby issue? I can't see a woman finally getting her kid off to college only to have to start over again with a new baby...

ReneeW said...

Jay, yep, they had a baby. I don't have the book on hand anymore but I think she had to have some fertility treatment (and it wasn't easy). It was in the epilogue and of course they were deliriously happy.

Jay said...

Yuck. That would be enough to make me throw it against the wall.

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