Monday, February 1, 2016

A Girl's Guide to Moving On, by Debbie Macomber

Ballantine Books, ISBN 9780553391923, February 2016

Leanne Patterson and her daughter-in-law Nichole are embarking on new lives in the aftermath of facing up to their husbands' infidelity. Leanne had put up with Sean's infidelity for thirty-five years before discovering that son Jake was also cheating on his wife. Nichole, when she learned the truth, is not willing to put up with it. They both file for divorce. Two years have passed; Leanne's divorce is final, but Jake is still fighting Nichole on it.

The two women, closer than ever, having taken apartments in Portland across the hall from each other. They're both volunteering as part of their plan for moving on and living healthy lives not focused on bitterness and resentment. Leanne is teaching an English as a second language class; Nichole is volunteering at Dress for Success. Nichole is also facing the challenges of being a single mother, and of having to send three-year-old Owen to Jake every other weekend. Both women have full lives, busy and challenging.

Then Leanne meets Nikolai in in her ESL class. He's a baker from Ukraine, handsome and sweet, and deals with his limited ability to express nuanced ideas in English by baking her bread to express his feelings.

Nichole meets Rocco, a tow truck company owner who comes to her rescue when she backs her car into a ditch. A single father with a teenage daughter, he winds up asking her to help his daughter Kaylene to select a dress more appropriate for the school dance than the one she's currently planning to wear.

Leanne and Nichole are both in for a bumpy ride, finding new love when they've given up on it, and discovering that the only thing both Sean and Jake dislike as much as being faithful is the idea of their ex-spouses moving on and finding happiness without them. The two women still have a lot of emotional ground to cover, to learn to love and respect themselves, and believe themselves worthy of real love. To a lesser extent, so do Nikolai and Rocco. The two most seriously in need of personal growth, though, are Sean and Jake, and they've got a really painful road ahead of them.

This is a gentle and humane book, with the strengths and weaknesses of all the characters recognized and explored. It's a warm and comforting read for the cold winter season.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.