Saturday, January 9, 2016

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

4 Star

Wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate understands the happily-ever-after business, yet somehow she's still involved in her ex-husband's life. In fact, Owen's new wife may—inexplicably—be Jenny's new best friend. Sensing this, well, relationship isn't helping her move on, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she'll be able to bask in her sister Rachel's picture-perfect family life…and hopefully make one of her own. 

Her timing couldn't be more perfect, since Rachel will need her younger sister. Her idyllic marriage has just fallen to pieces in spectacular fashion after she discovers her husband sexting with one of his colleagues. Second chances aren't in Rachel's nature, but the desire for an intact family has her rethinking her stance on adultery, much to Jenny's surprise. Rachel points to their parents' "perfect" marriage as a shining example, but to protect her sister Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a secret about their family she's been keeping since childhood. 

During this summer of secrets and lies, temptation and revelation, Jenny and Rachel will rely on each other to find the humor in their personal catastrophes, the joy in their triumphs…and the strength to keep hanging on. 

Kathryn - 4 Star

I enjoyed If You Only Knew because of the relationship between the two sisters. For me this was the entirety of the novel. If you didn’t get a good feel for their bond then I think you miss the point of the book.  The girls’ interactions with their mother were also important, as were their relationships with their men, but at the heart of the story was sisterhood (blood or chosen- it’s all the same to me).

Upon first impressions I wasn’t sure I was going to like Jenny. She definitely came across as a bit of a doormat in the initial chapters focussing on her story.  (The woman manages to not only attend her ex-husband’s new wife’s baby shower but also delivers the baby at said shower.) I’m quite certain that’s one for the record books but at that point I was already too curious to drop her like a hot potato.
Likewise I was initially perturbed by Rachel, who also had some doormat-ish qualities but hers were focussed more on the haze of motherhood and her need to have the home run as smoothly as possible with beatific serenity.  It’s not my world to be so perfect so I had a hard time connecting with her during her first few chapters.

That seems like a lot of initial negativity but it’s a testament to Higgins’ writing that I was hooked, despite my initial feelings toward Rachel and Jenny. They both came out of the shadows quite quickly and most importantly they did it with the support of the other.  Rachel has a lot to lose and I found myself going backward and forwards with her while she tried to make things work for her family. I wouldn’t have been surprised about any outcome for her- both seemed plausible until the last straw which decided things for Rachel once and for all.

The romance in this story, though integral to the plot movement, is mostly to support the family bonds that stand stronger than those romances in the end. It was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thank you to Little Bird Publicity for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Kristan Higgins:
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