Title: If You Only Knew
Author: Kristan Higgins
My Rating: B-
Genre: Women's Fiction
Main Characters: Jenny and Rachel
Release Date: August 2015
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild
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.
I picked up Kristan Higgins for the first time when she wrote her second book. From that moment on, she's been one of my favorite authors. When the publicity for this book began, I realized it was mainly women's fiction which is not my favorite genre, but I figured it was fine, because she's one of my favorite authors. I pretty much love all her books...but not this one.
And it's not that it was a bad book. It's not at all. In fact, I had a really hard time putting it down because the story is riveting and the writing is very well-done. But just like daytime talk shows are riveting, this book did not make me feel better or happier for having read it. Nope, instead, I felt a little nauseated and maybe even slightly disgusted with myself for continuing to read about such toxic characters, even when I knew I should walk away from the book.
And that really is what this book is about...the toxic people that surround these two sisters. They live just outside NYC and at least 85% of the people in the book are shallow, vapid, mean, cruel people who don't care about anyone else. No one is happy...definitely not the sisters, because all these people around them are awful. The sisters should both move, and honestly, they may not even want to stick together because they don't seem to bring out the best in one another either. Ugh.
But that being said, it's not all without hope. Within the story, Leo was my happy place. The early dialogue between him and Jenny is wonderful and I really loved his character. Even his story line, while tragic and so sad, was really good. But again, he's not a healthy character...depressed and I would guess alcoholic...he also has his own levels of toxicity. The book does end well. Well, the way it should anyway for most everyone, but it's not until about 95%-97% into the story that I could see some light in the story. Overall, the story is a depressing and sad testimony on humanity as a whole. That's not why I read.
So, yeah, Kristan Higgins writing women's fiction...not for me.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.