Valencia, a timid debt collector with crippling OCD, is afraid of many things, but the two that scare her most are flying and turning thirty-five. To confront those fears, Valencia’s therapist suggests that she fly somewhere—anywhere—before her upcoming birthday. And as Valencia begins a telephone romance with a man from New York, she suddenly has a destination in mind. There’s only one problem—he might not actually exist.
Mrs. Valentine is an eccentric old woman desperate for company, be it from neighbors, telemarketers, or even the funeral director (when you’re her age, you go to a lot of funerals). So she’s thrilled when the new cleaning girl provides a listening ear for her life’s story—a tale of storybook love and incredible adventures around the world with her husband before his mysterious and sudden disappearance.
The stories of Valencia and Mrs. Valentine may at first appear to have nothing in common…but then again, nothing in life is as straightforward as it seems.
I hate it when books market themselves by appealing to fans of another book. “Perfect for fans of
fill in the blank with whatever popular book whose themes match with this one”.
Can we just get over this trend of following the trend, already? I see what the publisher is trying to do by letting the readers know what they could find in the book. But being a reader, I don’t want to get into a book with expectations about a certain book that I loved, and be disappointed. Also, when I love a book, it’s rarely only because of the subject of the book. It’s mostly always the writing and the execution of the plot that does it for me.
If I were a writer, I wouldn’t want my book to get pigeonholed even before it gets released. I think you’re already putting a book into a disadvantage by comparing it to a popular book before it gets released.
But I guess this gets more readers to pick a new book up. So I get what the intention behind doing this. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to like it. And whenever I see a synopsis comparing the story to a popular book, I instantly get wary. Because, rarely have such lines been able to live up to their claims.
Okay, I think I ranted enough. On to the actual book review –
It took me a long time to get through the first third of the book. Nothing happened. I could not connect with both the main characters. And guess what? It’s a character driven book.
Valencia has serious OCD. I know that I’m supposed to be feeling a strong connection towards her and root for her, but instead I found myself wanting to skim through the pages with her inner thoughts. Mrs. Valentine is a lonely women in her eighties. But instead of feeling any warmth towards her, I felt depressed reading her parts.
I think the problem with the book is, it is a little too depressing and morbid. Having characters with mental disorder doesn’t mean that the whole book has to be told with such a grim tone. It can also be heartwarming. Like Gail Honeyman did with Eleanor Oliphant. But I found the story here to be confusing. I think that the author tried a little too hard to focus on mental health issues, that compromised on the story-telling.
This was the first book I started after a long book slump. I expected a mixture of dark comedy and heartwarming storytelling. But I found it to be depressing instead. Maybe if I’d read it on a different mood, I’d have appreciated it more. But this is an ARC that I’d fallen behind on, what with it having been released a month ago with me noticing too late. That’s why I’ll give one extra star to it. Because I think I read it when I wasn’t in the right mindset for it.
Publication Date: 1st June, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)