Monday, 3 July 2017

Review: Always by Sarah Jio

While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt "right." But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants.

Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she's willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 7th 2017 by Ballantine Books

Terri's Thoughts

Sarah Jio is one of my go to authors when I am looking for something to read that I know I will like.  She has a tendency to pick topics I enjoy, writes in a style that works for me, and tells compelling stories that keep me glues to the pages.  This book has actually been sitting on my to be read pile for quite some time and I thought it was a good time to turn to something that I am guaranteed to love.

Sadly, for the first time ever, I didn't love the story.  I liked it, but did not have the rush of glowing adoration I normally have after reading one of Jio's works.  There were just too many items that I struggled with in the story.  I will actually narrow it down to three.

1.  Cade.  I honestly never got drawn in to his character.  I didn't find him the dynamic guy that Kailey fell in love with in the 90's.  I didn't see his charisma and charm nor really saw what Kailey saw in him.  While I certainly had empathise with his situation in the current date, I never really found myself on team Cade.

2.  Perhaps this is no fault of Jio's and more just a personal preference but I found the music scene of the 1990's annoying.  This is only because I never really got in to the whole Seattle music scene phenomenon that (I felt) everyone jumped on the bandwagon for.  I never liked the music or the scene although I know many who did.  The funny thing is that in a note to the reader at the end of the story, Jio mentions how this was her teenage reality (being from Seattle) and this was what she remembers so fondly about her teenage years.  The only thing we have in common on this one is that we must be roughly the same age, only my memories are not so fond.  I am sure if I lived there, I would fell differently.  So as mentioned, I can't really fault a story for being set in a time that doesn't really interest me, I can say I couldn't identify.

3.  The last, and perhaps biggest issue I had was the direction the story took for the conclusion.  It is going to be very difficult to try to put this in to words without giving away any spoilers.  To keep it as generic as possible, I thought that the direction was unrealistic for the content of the story, that being traumatic brain injuries.  While some items did get left open, the ones that did get closed almost seem to be gift wrapped with a nice shiny bow.  Almost too clean for my liking.  Alas, it is the land of fiction so who am I to judge.

So it seems like I was really harsh in my criticism of this book.  Let me be as clear as possible.  I did not dislike it.  I just had Jio on such a high pedestal from her other books, that my expectations were high.  The bar was higher than it may have been for an author unknown to me.  I am glad I read this story, I liked it.  I was just not left with that indescribable feeling you get with a really great book that stays with you long after you have read it.  Instead, I simply enjoyed it while reading it but will most likely not think back to this story in the future. I will however anxiously await for the next story by Sarah Jio as I am sure it will be as great as her previous ones.

About the Author

Sarah Jio is the New York Times bestselling author of THE VIOLETS OF MARCH, THE BUNGALOW, BLACKBERRY WINTER, THE LAST CAMELLIA, MORNING GLORY, GOODNIGHT JUNE, THE LOOK OF LOVE--all from Penguin (Plume), and ALWAYS, forthcoming on February 7, 2017 from Random House (Ballantine). Sarah is also a journalist who has contributed to The New York Times, Glamour, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, SELF, Real Simple, Fitness, Marie Claire, and many others. She has appeared as a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition. Her novels are translated into more than 25 languages. Sarah lives in Seattle with her three young boys.

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