Monday, November 13, 2017

Book Review: The Happiness In Between

By Sara Steven

Sandra Hurst has left her husband. Again. After dropping out of college to marry Trent, divorcing him, then remarrying him, she’s shown up on her parents’ doorstep nursing her wounds. But her parents refuse to help this time—emotionally or financially.

Desperate to earn money and determined to start over, she accepts an offer from her aunt to house-sit at the old family home, Cub Creek, in ruggedly beautiful rural Virginia. But when Sandra arrives, she finds the house has grown shabby, her aunt’s dog is missing, and the garden is woefully overgrown. And she suspects her almost-ex-husband is on her trail.

As she begins to settle into the familiar homestead, powerful secrets and hurtful memories are unearthed. But Sandra discovers that to move on from the pain of her past, she must embrace the beauty of her future. Getting back to her roots—with a little help from her handsome new neighbor Colton and his son; her aunt’s devoted dog, Honey; and a lush garden on the brink of either failing or flourishing—may be just what Sandra needs. And this final chance could lead to regaining her self-respect, making peace with her family, discovering what she’s truly made of…and becoming the woman she was always meant to be. And along the way, she just might find a bit of happiness in each day. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

The relationship between Sandra and Trent was chilling, and here’s why; they interact with one another in a way that really speaks volumes on what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone who is a manipulator. Sandra never feels as though she’s on solid ground with Trent. She feels as though he’s messing with her head, but by outward appearances, it doesn’t seem that way, which makes her all the more confused. As a reader, I really felt that confusion and there were moments where even I had questioned the validity of her feelings. Is Trent such a bad guy, or is she making him out to be?

I questioned Sandra, because she questions herself. I got the impression that she’s been coddled a lot, has often let others dictate the kind of life she wants to live. So, when she makes the decision to leave Trent a second time, no one wants to support the decision because it’s not easily understood, and it’s coming from someone who doesn’t do anything on her own.

I liked the fact that Sandra is thrown into a situation where it’s sink or swim for her, like taking care of her aunt’s home, the dog, the yard, and really, herself. It was interesting to see the way she works hard at fighting against several years of not knowing her own worth, and while there are plenty of stumbles, there’s plenty of growth, too.

And speaking of growth, I really appreciated the character development and evolvement of Sandra, and the tension that often presents itself when she’s dealing with Trent. There were plenty of moments while reading The Happiness In Between that had been building up to something pretty catastrophic, almost like watching a scary movie where you see the main character walking upstairs to investigate a loud noise, and you know someone else is in the house, and you scream out loud, “Come on, don’t go up there!” Only in this case, there were false alarms that kept me guessing on whether anything really would happen, which was nice. It kept the suspense aspect strong.

Thanks to Grace Greene for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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1 comment:

Grace Greene said...

Thank you, Sara Stevens, and Chick Lit Central, for the lovely review! You really "got" Sandra and her background, her life, and her relationship with Trent.