Book Review, Drama, Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction

Book Review: ‘If You Only Knew’, by Kristan Higgins

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About the author: Kristan Higgins is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and a two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, National Public Radio, Library Journal, iBooks and Amazon have named Kristan’s books to their best books of the year numerous times. The author is a popular speaker at schools, writers’ conferences, bookstores and book festivals. Before she was a writer, Kristan worked in advertising and public relations. She waited tables and nannied while in high school and college, cleaned houses as a young mother, and is the proud descendant of a laundress and a butcher. The author loves animals, children (even teenagers), the New York Yankees and dessert. Along with her heroic and tolerant firefighter husband and two snarky and entertaining children, Kristan lives in her hometown in Connecticut.

About the book: Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expecIf You Only Knew by Kristan Higginsted, especially since his new wife wants to be Jenny’s new best friend. Sensing this isn’t exactly helping her achieve closure, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she’ll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel’s picture-perfect family life…and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbor, a guy who’s utterly irresistible and annoyingly distant at the same time.

Rachel’s idyllic marriage, however, is imploding after she discovers her husband sexting with a colleague. She always thought she’d walk away in this situation, but her triplet daughters have her reconsidering her stance on adultery, much to Jenny’s surprise. Rachel points to their parents’ perfect marriage as a shining example of patience and forgiveness; but to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a family secret she’s been keeping since childhood. Both Rachel and Jenny will have to come to terms with the past and the present and find a way to get what they want most of all.

Review: You have been warned: this one is a page turner, the kind that, despite the lack of cliff hanger, you just really want to pick back up again because you want to know what’s going to happen next. The writing is engaging, the characters are loveable, and the story flows seamlessly. There is also a lovely balance between seriousness (after all, divorce and adultery are serious matters) and levity (might as well laugh through as much of it as we can!) is particularly appreciated. The sex scenes are thankfully not detailed and easy to skip over. There is some coarse language sprinkled throughout the book but thankfully not too much0—it helps that Rachel, for the most part, doesn’t swear!

The love between two sisters is, as anyone who has one (or more), unique and irreplaceable. Oftentimes, sisters have a lot in common, but they let their differences blind them—it’s easier to not see the truth, sometimes, or to not let go of one’s idea of who one is. Rachel and Jenny start seemingly at two opposite ends of the line and end up, by the end of the story, closer to the middle and, in some cases, switching roles.

The role of trust within a relationship is also explored at various levels. Can Rachel trust her husband despite what happened? Can Rachel and Jenny trust themselves after each sister seemingly missed “warning signs” they might have been able to act on? Is Jenny trustworthy despite the fact that she is keeping a huge secret from her sister and her mother?

Another concept explored in various ways is that of the “perfect marriage”; what is it, exactly? Is there such a thing in the first place? Is a perfect marriage defined in the outer manifestations of an inner condition? Or can there be a discrepancy between the two? And if there is, is it a problem, or when does it become a problem?

There are so many important concepts touched upon in this story that it will probably stay with readers for quite sometimes as they, too, grapple with some big questions.

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