Beth Prudhomme recently moved to Portland, Oregon from Chicago and landed a job as a high school music teacher. Her favorite Aunt Sunshine, a famous artist and old hippie, lives nearby. Beth’s mother is super controlling, but she’s back in Chicago and has promised not to visit for one year.
Beth makes a good friend at school, another teacher named Nichole. Nichole is married and has a baby. She invites Beth over for dinner, wanting to fix her up with her husband’s best friend, Sam.
The two clash almost immediately. Sam is a tattooed, bearded auto mechanic and thinks Beth is a stuck up priss. Sam just makes her uncomfortable, she’s never met anyone like him and can’t understand why her friend would fix them up. They both decide to duck out early, and are driving away when Sam witnesses Beth get into a terrible accident. He jumps from his car and rushes to her, holding her hand and telling her she is going to be all right, but he is really scared that this woman he just met is going to die.
He ends up visiting her at the hospital, and feels compelled to keep going back and they fall into an easy friendship as she starts down the long road to recovery. He brings his guitar and plays for her, and they realize their shared love of music and that maybe they have more in common than they thought.
Eventually, they fall in love but neither of them wants to admit it or have that sort of relationship. He’s been burned before, and burned badly, and she’s in a panic about what her parents might think – her father’s a scholar and her mother’s a snob.
Eventually they work through all the early hurdles only to find even bigger ones down the road. Nevertheless, they get their happily ever after.
It is a truly compelling read – I read it in one night. The story has real depth but still moves fast. It’s the characters that really drew me in, and I’m sure they’ll stay with me for some time to come.
3/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
IF NOT FOR YOU by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books (March 21, 2017). ISBN 978-0553391961. 384p.