Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

How do you navigate life after your husband dies on the same day you were packing up to finally leave him? And the emotional turmoil you're in isn't grief, but guilt because you didn't love him, and everyone thinks  you're in deep mourning. 

That is Eveleth "Evvie" Drake's world, a year after her husband, a beloved local doctor, dies in a car accident. She's rattling around in a big house, hasn't worked much, and is stuck. Saturday morning breakfasts with her best friend Andy keep folks in the small seaside town of Calcasset, Maine gossiping about their  relationship (it really is platonic). 

Evvie's world gets a change when Andy's childhood friend, ex-baseball pitching star Dean arrives, looking for a place to get away for a year or so after a humiliating season of losing his pitching arm. He's left baseball and needs a place to just get his life together, away from the journalists, away from fans who think he lost it completely and didn't try hard enough to get his pitching mojo back. Evvie's house has an apartment, and Dean moves in, and their friendship begins, little by little, inch by inch. 

This is a quiet novel, full of good people, all just trying to find what makes them happy and content. It's a novel about pausing and realizing you have to work through some junk and come out the other side, or you'll never get to that place of peace and contentment. For Evvie, it's all about coming to grips with her unhappy marriage, and the emotional abuse she endured for years from a man that could do no wrong and was beloved by his hometown. For Dean, it's about accepting that his pitching arm just doesn't work anymore, and the one thing he lived for, and excelled at, is gone-so what does he do now? For Andy, it's about finding someone to love after a tough divorce-someone willing to love his two little girls as much as he does. Mostly, it's about friendship through easy times, and through those rough patches, and not being afraid to be happy. We've all had those moments of thinking "I'm so happy, something is going to ruin it". So you're afraid to be happy. But as Dean wisely says, bad things are going to happen, and being happy does not make bad things happen. But you live a happy life, and deal with the bad stuff knowing you're strong enough to do it. 

I started this novel a few weeks ago, and put it down as I continued my usual ritual of starting one book, picking up another, then another, then another. I finally circled back around and was able to hunker down and finish it. And I loved it. It's not a novel that has oodles of action, or big moments of drama. It's funny, sweet, and a little bit sad in parts, but it sneaks up on you. Evvie and Dean have a pretty wonderful friendship that turns into something even better, but as always, they have to work to find that happy ending. 

Rating: 5/6 for a novel that doesn't shout, but quietly reminds us that life is a journey, and it's a bit messy, and we don't have to have all the answers or be absolutely perfect. Dean, oh boy-you may find yourself with a bit of a crush on this guy. Evvie is a refreshing, honest, and funny character-you'll keep cheering her on her journey. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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