Thursday, September 8, 2011

Always Something There to Remind Me by Beth Harbison

Title:  Always Something There to Remind Me
Author: Beth Harbison
My Rating: A+

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Chick Lit
Main Characters: Erin, Nate, & Rick
Release Date: July 2011
ISBN: audiobook
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

I received a copy of this AudioBook from Macmillan Audio in return for an honest review.

Story Overview:
Can you ever really know if love is true? And if it is, should you stop at anything to get it?

Two decades ago, Erin Edwards was sure she’d already found the love of her life: Nate Lawson. Her first love. The one with whom she shared everything--dreams of the future, of children, plans for forever. The one she thought she would spend the rest of her life with. Until one terrible night when Erin made a mistake Nate could not forgive and left her to mourn the relationship she could never forget or get over.

Today, Erin is contentedly involved with a phenomenal guy, maneuvering a successful and exciting career, and raising a great daughter all on her own. So why would the name “Nate Lawson” be the first thing to enter her mind when her boyfriend asks her to marry him?

In the wake of the proposal, Erin finds herself coming unraveled over the past, and the love she never forgot. The more she tries to ignore it and move on, the more it haunts her.

Always Something There to Remind Me is a story that will resonate with any woman who has ever thought of that one first love and wondered, “Where is he?” and “What if…?” Filled with Beth Harbison’s trademark nostalgia humor and heart, it will transport you, and inspire you to believe in the power of first love.

My Review:
I am so overwhelmed by this book, I am not even sure where to start this review. I don't think that I have ever been as personally affected mentally and emotionally by a book as this one has affected me and I am not even sure if I can pinpoint the exact reason as to why. This is DEFINITELY a story that resonates close to my heart. Erin is my age, exactly. She also has a 15 yo daughter and I have a 16 yo son. Her high school years were at the exact same time as mine so when she is reminiscing about her high school life and all that entailed, everything she was talking about from the music to the movies to the stores were the details from my high school existence. I also had a very serious boyfriend back in high school who was the center of my then-world. But like Erin, my maturity level was really lacking and her actions were so familiar to me that it hurts to read.

The book jumps constantly from the Present and back to the mid 1980's when Erin was in high school and deeply in love with Nate... like only teen love can be. Much of the lure of this book throughout the first half of the book is that you are told way early that Erin & Nate have not been together in 23 years. The details of their relationship are slowly revealed, and the deeper you read into their relationship, the more the questions press about what in the world happened to keep them apart for the last 23 years. At the same time, you are learning about Erin's life now with her wonderful 15 yo daughter Camille, her really incredible boyfriend Rick who wants to marry her, and his 16 yo daughter Amy who is Cam's best friend.

What is obvious throughout the entire story is, that no matter how young they were, Nate & Erin had an incredible love and the end of that relationship and the pain from that ending has never left Erin. That pain is a palpable entity throughout the entire book. It echoes. It resonates. It hurts me, as the reader, even now to think about it. She was absolutely devastated by the loss of Nate no matter what her actions were that brought on the break-up. That single loss defined her whole life. She never again had another true love, but was it true love  or simply the teenage high-emotion definition of true love?

There is also a lot of discussion about fate in this book. What if Nate & Erin had never broken up? What if she had made a single different choice in high school? There are so many what if's? But the one thing that is clear throughout this book is that if she hadn't made the choices that she had, then she wouldn't have had Camille and that is not a choice that she EVER would have made. Camille is her life and in the end Camille is her savior in helping her make the right move. There was a certain rightness to that which was so perfect for the ending in this book.

I experienced this book as an audiobook, and I honestly am not sure that I would have enjoyed the book as much or become as immersed in the story as I did, if I had read it myself instead. There is a lot of internal dialogue by Erin within the book about her feelings and angst. That is one of those things that tends to annoy me when I am reading a book, but listening to it during the audiobook was a completely different experience. The writing in this is gorgeous and when Erin is going on internally about the depth of her feelings, it was so incredibly moving. I honestly don't think that I would have ever gotten that had I read this book myself, rather than listening to it. For that reason alone, I HIGHLY recommend this audiobook. The language and the writing is just gorgeous and listening to the quality of it was really beautiful.

The narrator (Orlagh Cassidy) in this audiobook is also absolutely incredible. Not only did she do all the different voices, but she managed to do 16 yo Erin vs. 40+ yo Erin perfectly. They had the same inflections, but somehow she managed to add the age amazingly. I am really, really impressed by her skill with the reading of the story. Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend either this audiobook or the book. I am so glad that I experienced it as an audiobook first, but I will be honest, I plan to go out tomorrow and buy the book. There are parts that I want to re-read because they are haunting me. It was just really, truly an amazing book! I loved it!!


Felicia the Geeky Blogger said...

Orlagh Cassidy is one of my all time favorite narrators! I have listened to 3 different ones that she has done and they were all excellent :)

I am going to have to get this one....

BookaholicCat said...

After what you said about this book... I want it, but for the same reason I'm not sure if to buy the book or the audiobook, decisions, decisions, decisions...

Julie said...

I am listening to it now so I am not going to actually read your review. But I requested it just because you said so, without reading anything you wrote about it and only reading the GR blurb. Do you see the power you hold on me Christi?

So far, I'm at chapter 10 and I'm quite enjoying the narrator. She is doing a spectacular job. I'm not sure if I love the heroine or if I find her odd. LOL

Beth Harbison said...

Orlagh did an amazing job on all my books so far - she "gets" it - has the right inflection for the jokes, and knows the sadness in even the things that could have gone either way to the wrong reader.

And, Julie, let me help you out with that: you love the heroine. lol.

Beth Harbison said...

And CHRISTI - thank you for the most amazing review I've ever gotten for anything I've ever written. As you might imagine, this book meant more to me than any of the others so far (no sad commentary on them - I enjoyed writing them all - but this was personal). You totally got it.

Of course, every time someone really really gets it, I feel a little sad because I know they went through some emotional wringer along the way themselves...

That's life, right? One minute you're rolling the dice, all ready to pass Go and get your $200 and suddenly Miss Scarlet's in the library with a gun!