Spotlight Review: REMINDERS OF HIM by Colleen Hoover

From the publisher:

A troubled young mother yearns for a shot at redemption in this heartbreaking yet hopeful story from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.

After serving five years in prison for a tragic mistake, Kenna Rowan returns to the town where it all went wrong, hoping to reunite with her four-year-old daughter. But the bridges Kenna burned are proving impossible to rebuild. Everyone in her daughter’s life is determined to shut Kenna out, no matter how hard she works to prove herself.

The only person who hasn’t closed the door on her completely is Ledger Ward, a local bar owner and one of the few remaining links to Kenna’s daughter. But if anyone were to discover how Ledger is slowly becoming an important part of Kenna’s life, both would risk losing the trust of everyone important to them.

The two form a connection despite the pressure surrounding them, but as their romance grows, so does the risk. Kenna must find a way to absolve the mistakes of her past in order to build a future out of hope and healing.

https://amzn.to/33I4nu7

This is the kind of book that should come with a warning: make sure you have tissues available while reading! I cried a few times reading this, yet I couldn’t put it down. It is also one of those books that I hated turning the last page, I wanted to spend more time here.

The “here” of it is also interesting. The author’s note references that there is no location given in this story – it is set in Any Small Town, USA and it worked – actual geography just wasn’t necessary. But it’s the characters that make this book so unputdownable.

Kenna was a teenager in love with Scotty. They were out one night, both had a bit too much to drink and some weed, and Scotty asked Kenna to drive because she was in a little bit better shape than he was, which isn’t saying much. She was also a fairly new driver, so when she sped through a turn on a gravel road, she lost control of the car and it flipped. She walked away, but Scotty was killed.

Heartbroken, Kenna pleads guilty at her trial and is sentenced to prison. A few weeks later, she finds out she is pregnant. The baby comes six weeks early and Scotty’s parents get custody as Kenna still has several years of prison ahead of her. Kenna is pretty much alone in the world, so when she gets out of prison five years later, she has nothing but the desire to at least see her daughter.

She saves up enough money to move to the small town where her daughter is living. She finds a dumpy apartment and moves in, figuring she’ll look for a job the next day. She heads over the to bookstore where she and Scotty spent so much time but it isn’t there anymore, it’s been turned into a bar. The bartender is intrigued with her, and asks her to come back when he gets off work, which she does. There is definite chemistry there, but once she sees his orange truck and finds out his name is Ledger, she knows this can go no further. Ledger was Scotty’s best friend.

Scotty has become a surrogate uncle to Kenna’s daughter, Diem, and he is outraged when he realizes who she is. Scotty’s parents are also incensed that the woman who killed their son has returned, and they are all determined to keep her away from Diem. But as Ledger gets to know Kenna, he starts to realize that things aren’t as black and white as they all assumed.

There is a lot going on here. The story is told alternately from Kenna and Ledger’s perspectives, which give us more depth. This is a story of mother separated from her child. It is, at times, an epistolary novel, as part of Kenna’s story is told through the hundreds of letters she has written Scotty since his death. It is also a romance, and there are a couple of sex scenes. It explores the messy emotions we all struggle with; guilt, sorrow, love, and forgiveness. It examines how everything is not always as it seems, and how assumptions can have a devastating effect on someone’s life. Ultimately, it is a story of redemption and hope.

This may be Hoover’s best book yet. It is a compelling story and a recognizable, relatable one. I read it in one afternoon, and I loved it. Book groups, please take note – lots to discuss here!

1/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

REMINDERS OF HIM by Colleen Hoover. Montlake (January 18, 2022). ISBN: 978-1542025607. 335 pages.

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