Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: The From-Aways

The From-Aways
by C.J. Hauser

Why did you choose this book? The cover! (and I won a copy…)
When did you read this book? June 2014
Who should read this book? readers looking for a beach read with tension
Source: Library Thing Early Reviewers
Here is a synopsis of The From-Aways from GoodReads

Two women come to Maine in search of family and find more love, heartbreak, and friendship than they’d ever imagined one little fishing town could hold.
When Leah, a young New York reporter, meets Henry, she falls in love with everything about him: his freckles, green thumb, and tales of a Maine childhood. They marry quickly and Leah convinces Henry to move back to Menamon. As Leah builds a life there, reporting for The Menamon Star and vowing to be less of an emotional screw-up, the newlyweds are shocked to discover that they don’t know each other nearly so well as they thought they did.
When Quinn’s mother dies, she tracks down the famous folk-singer father she’s never known, in Menamon. Scrappy and smart-mouthed, Quinn gets a job at the local paper, an apartment above the town diner, and tries to shore up the courage to meet her father. But falling in love with her roommate, Rosie, was never part of the plan.
These two unruly women’s work relationship at The Star deepens into best-friendship when they stumble onto a story that shakes sleepy Menamon—and holds damaging repercussions for Leah’s husband and Quinn’s roommate both. As the town descends into turmoil, both women must decide what kind of lives they are willing to fight for.
My Review

I picked this one up because the cover is so summery and relaxing. I’m sorry to say, it was a little too relaxed; the book got off to a really slow start. The title refers to Leah and Quinn, two young women who come to the small Maine town as ‘outsiders’ or ‘from-aways’. Quinn comes to town in search of her father, a musician who abandoned her and her mother shortly after her birth. Leah is here because she has pressured her husband to move back to his hometown, having a romanticized version of what a small town life is and should be. While Quinn really doesn’t seem to mind being treated as an outsider, Leah desperately wants to ‘fit in’.

I really didn’t connect with any of the characters, but Leah was particularly annoying. She was seeking this imaginary, idyllic life in the small beach town of her husband’s childhood without really knowing much about the town. She seemingly stereotyped him as well as the town, leading to disappointment when he didn’t follow her script and react the way she expected he would react. Some of her decisions and actions made me wonder what she was thinking.

Much of the story centers around a controversy in the town when development threatens the small town atmosphere and lifestyle. Leah and her husband, Henry, end up on opposite sides of the controversy. My issue is that Leah doesn’t really discuss her involvement in the controversy with Henry, and at one point pretty much blind-sides him. It never seems to enter her mind that he may react badly and that this might threaten her marriage.

Though I found Leah annoying, and the story moved too slowly at the beginning, I didn’t hate this book. The writing was descriptive and some of the dialogue was witty! Without giving spoilers, I do wish things could have been different at the end, so that was a bit disappointing. And of course, I wish there was an epilogue so I knew what Leah and Quinn are doing a year or two after the story ends. While this won’t be on my ‘favorites’ list for 2014, I think it will make a good book club selection with some interesting discussions about Leah and her decisions, as well as the problem small towns face when developers come calling.

Here is a book trailer to give you a taste of the book.

My Rating:  ★★★   3 Stars

I received a review copy of this book from the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. This did not affect my review.
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