Kenna has just been released from prison after five years. Five years of not being a part of her daughter’s life, not knowing what she’s like. Determined to make amends, she heads back to the town where it all started, unsure if she is even worthy of being forgiven for what happened all those years ago before her little girl was born.
10% into the book I was nearly going to DNF it. Having read and loved several of CoHo’s other works, I didn’t have the heart to give up just yet.
Another 10% in, I still wasn’t feeling it… whatever it was that compelled other readers to love the book.
The writing felt a bit off with this repetitive emphasis on certain phrases, I wasn’t fond of Ledger or Kenna’s character voices, and I certainly wasn’t convinced by how quickly they got involved with each other.
“But it’s a Colleen Hoover book!” I kept thinking, nudging myself to read a few more pages before I DNF it. And before I knew it, I couldn’t set it down. The chapters alternate between Kenna and Ledger’s perspectives.
Kenna’s chapters were a punch to the gut (they are some of the best parts of the book). It left me reeling from the intensity of her grief, the experiences she’s had, and the feelings she’s been keeping bottled in.
She writes these letters to her previous boyfriend Scotty; they are so transparent, so full of unrestrained emotions that they tug at your heartstrings. I love that this book is epistolary.
“Dear Scotty, Ledger is an asshole. We’ve clarified that. I mean, the guy turned a bookstore into a bar.”
CoHo’s writing has always left me teary-eyed with how effortlessly she portrays stories of real people. It’s honest, gut-wrenching, and beautiful. Her microscopic observation of human nature never fails to leave an impact.
Ledger, for the longest time, felt like an antagonistic character. Even when his opinion about Kenna was gradually changing, I still felt like he was holding her back. There isn’t much to his characterisation apart from this image that’s been created of him as a former pro football player, who has tattoos and now, owns a bar.
And so, by the end of it, the way he feels about Diem and Kenna is enough to shatter any notions you may have of him. I wouldn’t say that I loved his character, but I guess he had to be in a complex-enough space to make the conflicts in the book persuasive.
The novel also addresses what ex-felons go through; how they are ostracized in society and never able to ask for forgiveness.
Another aspect that I truly appreciate is how thought-provoking Colleen Hoover’s writing can be. In any given situation, it’s easy for people to point fingers. But she explores sensitive circumstances in a way to show that they are not always black and white.
“I think there’s room in a tragedy this size for everyone to be both right and wrong.”
If you pick up this book (which you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD), be prepared to shed some tears. My heart broke every time Kenna felt like her life wasn’t worth living or over Scotty’s parents living in a constant state of mourning for their only son.
I wish the first few chapters were better executed, but I am so so glad that I did not DNF this one.
Those who enjoy reading contemporary romances must read Reminders of Him.