Friday, August 30, 2019

Book Review: Love and Other Battles

1969: Free-spirited hippie Jess James has no intention of falling for a soldier ... but perhaps some things are not in our power to stop.

1989: Jess's daughter, Jamie, dreams of a simple life - marriage, children, stability - then she meets a struggling musician and suddenly the future becomes wilder and complex.

2017: When Jamie's daughter, CJ, brings home trouble in the form of the coolest boy at school, the worlds of these three women turn upside down ... and the past returns to haunt them.

Spanning the trauma of the Vietnam War to the bright lights of Nashville, the epidemic of teenage self-harm to the tragedy of incurable illness, Love and Other Battles is the heart-wrenching story of three generations of Australian women, who learn that true love is not always where you seek it. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Sara Steven:

I loved the way that each woman’s story within Love and Other Battles blends into one another, so that we’re able to learn more about each character. Those varying perspectives also allowed the opportunity to see the dynamics between mother and daughter, particularly when dealing with chaotic and trying situations. I appreciate that Tess Woods writes about the tough stuff, the subject matter that at times can even be viewed as controversial. That brave approach offers up another way to approach subject matters that we might not be as comfortable with.

I couldn’t help but feel for the varying romantic relationships depicted here; Jess and the deep, often self-sacrificing love she has for her husband, Jamie and the walls she has put up in order to protect herself from potentially feeling anything, and CJ with her newfound romance. I think there are times when the scenarios in stories don’t match up for the characters in the story, like with CJ and the experiences she has with the new boy from school. But, the way it’s described in this story and the way CJ lets us know, reminded me of what it was like to be a teenager again, with all the pressures and self-professed expectations that go along with that. It was real and very, very honest. The same thing could be said for all three women.

There is a big twist for Love and Other Battles, and even though I saw it coming, it didn’t lessen the shock value for me. I wanted to see how it would be portrayed, and I think it was done perfectly. Really, the whole book was perfection, a worthy five-star read!

Melissa Amster:

I read most of this novel in the span of one day. I just couldn't put it down. When I had to pause for real life, I wanted to get back to it as soon as possible, as I was worried for the characters.

Love and Other Battles is a powerful story about relationships between significant others and between family members. It deals with current issues, as well as some from previous eras that still make sense for this day and age. Fans of the hit television series This is Us will enjoy this novel, as it has a similar feel and not just because of the Vietnam parts. There's a lot of jumping back and forth between times and we get to see the characters from 1969 and 1989 as they age and change over time. All three main characters were put into tough situations and it was interesting to see how they weathered their storms, both for themselves and for each other. Some parts I did not see coming left me reeling when they hit me all of a sudden. I went through a book hangover that lasted from Saturday night until Wednesday morning, during which time I wasn't ready to start a new book.

Tess Woods continues to impress me with her thoughtful and sensitive writing style and I miss her characters so much afterward. (I still think about characters from her previous novels and I no doubt will continue to think of the ones from Love far into the future.) I already am clamoring to read whatever she writes next. I only wish there had been a soundtrack with CJ's songs to accompany this novel. (Like what Jodi Picoult did for Sing You Home.)

Movie casting suggestions:
Jess (1969): Katherine Langford
Jamie (1989): Daisy Ridley
Jess (2017/18): Stockard Channing
Jamie (2017/18): Saffron Burrows
CJ: Lara Robinson
Finn: Cole Sprouse
Simon: Mark Deklin
Frank (1969): Lincoln Younes

Thanks to Tess Woods for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Tess Woods:

1 comment:

Carole said...

Melissa, thanks for this. Cheers