Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway: The One That Got Away

By Jami Deise


Except for the very few who married their childhood sweethearts, nearly every human has “one who got away.” You know the one… the guy or gal you would have married, if you hadn’t been too young/too broke/too stupid. These folks used to disappear into the universe, remaining forever young and perfect in our minds, until Facebook came along and let everyone know exactly what happened to that one who got away. Some folks reunited with these found-again lovers; others breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Thank God I dodged that bullet!”

In Leigh Himes’s debut novel, The One That Got Away, her protagonist Abbey is not pining for a lost love. In fact, after she turned down a date with Philadelphia scion Alex van Holt years ago, she never saw him again. She isn’t pining at all; she’s stuck – stuck in a life that’s familiar to many of us – a career that doesn’t pay enough, two kids, and a husband who doesn’t work enough in or out of the house. That husband, Jimmy, is livid when he discovers that Abbey has spent $600 on a Marc Jacobs purse. He demands that she return it to Nordstrom’s right away. At the store, she slips over the escalator railing, crashes into the piano, and hits the floor. When she wakes up, she’s in a completely different life. And it’s a life in which $600 purses are no problem at all.

Because Alex was not the once great love of Abbey’s life, the story doesn’t unfold in a Sliding Doors type of way that the book has been compared to. Rather, it’s more like a hybrid of the movies 13 Going on 30 and the Nicolas Cage/Téa Leoni vehicle The Family Man. Both these movies fall in the wish-fulfillment category – more specifically, “be careful what you wish for; you might get it!” Tired of worrying about money, Abbey briefly wonders what life would be like if she’d gone on that date with Alex. When she wakes up married to him, it’s more 13 Going on 30 than The Family Man because she doesn’t know Alex – or his cutthroat family – at all. Nicholas Cage at least had a real relationship with Téa Leoni before he threw her over for that London job. Abbey has nothing to go on.

Just like Jenna in 13 Going on 30, Abbey finds that her best friend now hates her, but she’s now friends with the mean girls who once spurned her. She has the Pilates body, a closet full of designer clothes, a fulltime nanny, and she even got to keep the kids. True, Gloria and Sam are now spoiled brats with slightly different hair colors, but they are still recognizably the same children she had in her other timeline. She even has a parent away on a cruise. (“You guys went on a cruise and you didn’t take me!” Yes, Jenna Rink is one of my all-time favorite movie characters.)

What Abbey doesn’t have – which is vital to the “be careful what you wish for” genre – is a lesson she needs to learn. Jenna had ditched her best friend for the mean girls; Nicholas Cage had ditched the love of his life for money. A huge character flaw is necessary for these stories to work, as the protagonist must go on a journey to learn that the life they disparaged is the best one for them. (“There’s no place like home,” anyone?) Instead, Abbey is every woman, stressed out and unappreciated, and her off-screen purchase of the Marc Jacobs bag seems out-of-character. It’s rare to argue that a protagonist in humorous women’s fiction is too likeable, but in Abbey’s case, that may be true.

Frankly, the person who does need to learn a lesson is Jimmy. Underemployed as his landscaping business is about to fold, he’s more than happy to watch his wife run herself ragged at work and taking care of the kids while he watches TV.

As Abbey Van Holt, Abbey awakens as a rich, pampered wife of a man at the tail end of a tough Congressional campaign. Although her mother-in-law rules the roost, Abbey has a good life and a husband who seems to genuinely love her. Rather than searching tirelessly through Philadelphia to find a psychic or Madame Zoltar or anyone who can help her get back to her old life, Abbey gets caught up in Alex’s campaign and the other details of her new life. As the book progresses, it’s hard for the reader to root for Abbey to get her old life back. If Himes wanted to make the case that it’s better to be struggling with a man you (mostly) love than to be rich with a hot man you barely know, she didn’t persuade me. And at nearly 400 pages, it’s much longer than it needs to be.

Despite these flaws, The One that Got Away is a book that will resonate with anyone who loved 13 Going on 30 as much as I did. (I REALLY love that movie, though, so that bar’s pretty high.) I’d also recommend it if you enjoy any or all of the myriad body-switching stories out there, or Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Maybe in Another Life or One True Loves, or you’re a fan of the Bravo series Odd Mom Out.

The One that Got Away explores a common plot, but it’s one I don’t think will ever grow old. As long as we have choices, we’ll always wonder about the roads – or people – not taken. Until science invents a “parallel universe” machine, we’ll have to rely on fiction – or Facebook – to answer those questions.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one copy for a lucky reader! Visit the other stops on Leigh's tour for more chances to win.




How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends June 19th at midnight EST.

17 comments:

Janine said...

There are several situations that I would like to know what could have happened. So, I would love to be able to live life again and find out what could have been.

Susan Schleicher said...

I would love to able to time travel..... I think.

traveler said...

What I would enjoy experiencing is time travel. This would be wonderful.

Aire para respirar said...

time travel

cpr040304 said...

Reading people's thoughts would be great...maybe.

Melanie Backus said...

Time travel would be nice.

Dianne Casey said...

I would like to travel back in time to the Antebellum South.

Dianne Casey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Preston said...

Time travel would be amazing just so long as I can return to my time when I wish.

Unknown said...

Time travel would be amazing just so long as I can return to my time when I wish.

thank you!


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Kimberly S said...

Time travel would be pretty cool.

Suzy said...

Definitely go back in time. I know people say they wouldn't do anything differently, but I would. : )

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I think you're right - that storyline just never gets old.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

bn100 said...

time travel

Unknown said...

Thanks for being a part of the tour!
thank you for your sharing this good topic !



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Patricia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patricia said...

I'd love to be able to be invisible whenever I chose.