Monday, May 25, 2015

REVIEW: You Could Be Home By Now - Tracy Manaster + GIVEAWAY!

***Disclaimer: I received this book via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Any thoughts and opinions are my own.***

An hour and a half outside Tucson, Arizona, The Commons is a luxury retirement community where no full-time resident under the age of fifty-five is permitted. Young professionals Seth and Alison Collier accept jobs there as a means of dealing (badly) with a recent loss. When a struggling resident, underwater on her mortgage and unable to relocate due to the nation s ongoing housing crisis, is discovered to be raising her grandson in secret, the story--with the help of a well-meaning teenaged beauty blogger and a retiree with reasons of his own to seek the spotlight--goes viral. "You Could Be Home By Now" explores the fallout for all involved, taking on the themes of grief and memory, aspiration and social class, self-deception, and the drive in all of us to find a place to belong."

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You Could Be Home By Now is one of those books that when you takes you through an incredible emotional journey and when you finish it you just kind of sit there and stare at the book for a few minutes. It takes you a few minutes to process all of the thoughts and feelings you have had about all of the characters and circumstances in the book. But you absolutely loved all of the characters and you have a slight book hangover because of how good the book was. It's one of those kind of books. 

The beginning of this book immediately throws you into the emotional, heart-wrenching miscarriage of Alison and Seth's baby. As a way to deal with losing the baby Alison and Seth decide to quit their jobs and move across the country to work and live in a retirement community near Tucson, Arizona. What they both think will bring them closer is actually what almost destroys their marriage. 

Meanwhile, The Commons is home to a few other characters who are dealing with their own tragedies in peculiar, and sometimes quite humorous, ways. Mona, unable to sell her home, is hiding her young grandson from the community (he's not allowed to be there) and is getting away with it until one unfortunate accident with a hot tub and the well-meaning teenage girl next door. Sadie is learning how to live life after losing her husband the year before and spends her summer trying to entertain her granddaughter who recently got in trouble in school for alleged online bullying. Ben escaped his life and his wife up North in order to try and move on from his daughter's disappearance. 

At the beginning I thought this story was only going to follow Alison and Seth but once I realized that I was going to get to peak into the lives of other residents from The Commons, the book became that much more interesting. I really liked this book because it wasn't a "pretty" version of how people deal with tragedy. It was a realistic, and sometimes even pretty ugly, portrayal of how people deal with tragedy and the effort they put in trying to move on. 

This was a very well-written book and I was amazed to find out that this was a debut novel. Most authors have to put out several books before they reach something so poignant and personal. Even if you have't experience the type of loss that these characters have, you can still recognize the grief and emotions that they're going through. It speaks directly to your heart and soul on a level that makes you feel as broken-hearted as these characters. 

I think Lily, the lesbian teenage granddaughter of Sadie, really stole the show. She's a spitfire who wants to be a little defiant but all at the same time doesn't want to be a disappointment. She wants to be outspoken, but not at the expense of really hurting anyone's feelings. And she cares deeply for her grandmother. I loved the relationship between her and Sadie. It reminded me somewhat of the relationship I had with my Nanny, especially right after my sweet PawPaw died. 

This book isn't all tragedy. There are some pretty hilarious moments sprinkled throughout. My favorite is probably when Ben Thales makes the nightly news. You'll have to read the story to find out what he does. I won't ruin it for you. Just know that I literally choked on my drink while reading. (Thank goodness for my life-saving hubs!) I also loved the act of vandalism that happens towards the end of the book. I may or may not have taken part in something similar in my younger years. 
I highly recommend this book and if you do read it, please, please, please, let me know what you thought of it! 

Thank you to FW Media and Bethany Carland-Adams for the opportunity to review! 

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*Giveaway is only open to US residents.*

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