Sunday, June 29, 2014

Book Review: Love Me For Me

By Kathryn Hamilton

How do you define success? Is it the amount in your bank account, the label on your clothes, or the size of your house? Is it a high paying job? Status? Or is success found in the happiness and love of being around family and friends? Libby Potter was groomed by her mother Celia to think bigger than the small town of White Stone, leaving for New York at age 18 and never looking back. Until, that is, her life is turned upside down when she loses her job and her fiancĂ©, and Libby finds herself face-to-face with the past she couldn’t wait to run away from. Will Libby take the opportunity for a second chance to make amends? Or will she return to the life she carved out for herself in New York once things are sorted out?

From the opening scene, I knew Libby was going to be a character that I wouldn’t be able to identify with instantly. I’ve never heard of Tory Burch, and certainly don’t know the label from Louboutin (I’m surprised I spelled that name correctly without Googling). In many ways, I represent the small town that she loathes. However, it quickly becomes clear that the protagonist in Jenny Hale's novel, Love Me For Me, is more than a superficial New Yorker. She carries burdens on her shoulders and many regrets in her heart. Chief among these regrets is the way things were left with ex Pete Bennett, who she immediately crosses paths with once back in White Stone. Libby desperately wants Pete to understand her point of view. As a potential love interest, I found myself torn with whether or not I wanted to see Libby with Pete because he was so judgmental at times (in all fairness, he did have his legitimate reasons). I certainly felt that he was just as guilty himself of some of the things that he accuses Libby of and I wholeheartedly hoped that she would point this out. Ultimately, their resolution is true to both characters and does not feel disingenuous.

Libby’s return to White Stone is an opportunity for her personal growth and long overdue realizations. I was pleased by the way things progressed; Libby developed as a character instead of remaining stuck. I did feel that her “a-ha” moment regarding her mother came too quickly while she was frustratingly slow to have other revelations (there were many, many times where I wanted to reach through the pages to shake Libby and tell her to wake up). I wasn’t entirely sure how she came to the understanding that she did regarding her mother. That is my one small grumbling point.

Ms. Hale does an excellent job of creating characters that readers are invested in. She utilizes the supporting characters to add depth to Libby by creating an understanding of how she came to be the woman she is. Libby finds herself surrounded by strong personalities and soft shoulders. The most memorable characters for me were Pop and Jeanie, in large part because of Libby’s relationships with them. These two in particular were so endearing, and I loved the sentimentality and emotion they added to the story.

The title of the book is very apropos as it applies to more than the main character. In life, we are molded by many factors, primarily our parents and where we grew up. Often we blindly carry on through life guided by truths that do not necessarily resonate. Lucky are those who take opportunities to discover new ways of thinking and connecting with others. We all want to be understood, but most of all be loved for who we are, regardless of how we fit into someone else’s view of how we should be. Be sure to add this delightful novel to your collection today!

1 comment:

Librarian Lavender said...

Great review! I can't wait to read this book, it sounds amazing!