by Lisa K. Stephenson, Author and Relationship Coach
This is my first Colleen Hoover read and to be honest I was not impressed, so it will be my last. I was rolling my eyes and mad at myself that I even listened to all the hype around this book because it was just an overhyped Lifetime movie. Although, I can’t wait until it actually becomes a movie because then Jeremy from CinemaSins can get ahold of it and we can really shake things up.
Where do I even begin? You know a book or movie is bad when the characters in said book or movie are criticizing it. There’s a part in the book where Lowen gets sick and tired of reading through Verity’s manuscript because all she talks about is sex. I mean…as a reader, that is exactly why I kept rolling my eyes!
They knew it was bad and yet, I had to suffer through it. Imagine that. I am not a quitter so although mid-way through this book I was huffing and puffing ready to blow my house down, I kept turning the pages. Skimming at this point because guess what? When Colleen stops oversharing the sex life of her antagonist and her charming husband, she starts to overshare the adultery between the protagonist and, you guessed it, the charming husband. Colleen, honey, is everything okay at home?
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Here we have a story where the wife was in a terrible car accident leaving her in a vegetable state. Her publishers however need her best-selling series to be completed so the money can continue to roll in. They bring in this unpopular writer who goes by the name of Lowen Ashleigh to complete the manuscript because the husband, Jeremy, recommended her citing her writing style to be the same as his wife.
HERE ARE SOME PLOT HOLES BEFORE I GO ON:
Jeremy claims to have never read any of Verity’s books, but he later admits to Lowen that her writing style is similar to that of his wife’s and so, he thinks she should be the one to finish the books. But, how would he know?
Lowen says she read up on the family before taking the job, which is fine. But when she first arrived at their home she saw Crew and did not refer to him by name—if she read up on them she would have known his name, sure. But, she did not. Then she goes into the house and you guessed it, she’s referring to him by name. Now, let’s say she learned this information from her research before going to the house, why didn’t she call him by name upon first encountering him?
The overuse of, “Always writes from the antagonist’s point of view”. Immediately, I knew one of two things would happen, either Jeremy was the true antagonist or we would be getting a surprising ending….the latter was true.
Let’s carry on…
Next, we have the manuscripts….oh my word! Look, from the synopsis of this novel, I was expecting some heinous, vulgar, and disgusting things to be taking place. If you’ve never read the book ‘A Child Called It’ by Dave Pelzer, please, I am begging go do that now.
I say that because when children and terms like “bone-chilling admissions” are involved, I am propped up and ready to hate this woman. Instead, I don’t hate Verity, I see her as a co-dependent woman who should be checked into a mental hospital. I was not wishing her ill-will. Her stories of how she felt about her children are almost no different than a woman who is severely suffering from post-partum depression.
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These aren’t bone-chilling admissions; this is a woman who needed a psych evaluation before even having children. We can also consider how she and Jeremy met, the one-night stand, and her claim of moving into his home without his knowledge. With such irresponsibility and codependency, I expected her to have abandoned those children long before or do much worse. This story was mild at best and, as I said earlier, overhyped.
Lowen, as she reads through this manuscript, is disgusted and appalled. Yet, their youngest son, Crew, is close to his mom and even spends time lying next to her while she pretends to be in this catatonic state. If the words on those pages were true, then why was Crew still willing to remain in his mother’s presence? The author dropped the ball.
The ending was unseasoned. Similar to ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens where the ending was rather predictable. Verity doesn’t stray too far. Of course, Miss Owens committed the crime and of course, Verity is pretending. I figured that out half way through the book.
I suppose visual media will do this book some justice, the jump scares I mean—Verity looking up at Lowen from the window, her standing at the top of the stairs, coming out of the bed falling on her knees. Sure, visually, that may have an impact on audiences. But for heaven’s sake fix the plot holes and remove those overdone sex scenes. They were not needed.
Lastly, is the letter. Trying to humanize your villain at the end of a story is always going to be a hit or miss and in this case, it was a miss. No writer on earth is going to create a darker fantasy than how dark their reality is. The point of writing is escapism. Also, throughout the story, Jeremy seemingly agrees with Verity—how they met, what she wore, and how good their sex life was. All confirmed.
So was the letter necessary? A better ending in my opinion, now that Lowen is the new Verity would have been to have Jeremy display the “evil” character traits Verity described for herself in the manuscript.
Proving just how much Verity loved her husband that she was willing to villainize herself to make him look like a saint. That would also help solidify him as the antagonist when it’s revealed that he read her manuscript before Lowen arrived and that he was responsible for Verity’s car accident.
Lowen would then begin to fear for her safety and Verity would have successfully been humanized.
A solid 4/10.
Next, I will be reading ‘The Silent Patient’ by Alex Michaelides.
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