Friday, September 4, 2020

Book Review: More Than

By Sara Steven

“You are obese, Mrs. Moriarty.”

Peggy Moriarty is stunned by her doctor’s words. She knows she’s let herself go a bit, but she thinks the young, skinny physician is exaggerating. Her husband’s death fourteen years ago left her to raise their twins, Grace and Greg, alone. But now that they’re teenagers, doing their own things, her only hobby is watching Messages from Beyond, a show about a medium who connects the grieving with their deceased loved ones.

When the twins leave for college, they give Peggy a gift certificate for an exercise class. At first, Peggy is insulted. But once the sting wears off, she realizes if she gets in shape, she might gain the confidence she needs to go on her favorite TV show and talk to her husband one last time.

With help from her new friends at the gym and Carmen Tavarez, the mother of Grace’s boyfriend, Peggy begins to emerge from her prolonged grief and spread her wings. She may soon discover that her sum is more than a mother, a widow, and her body. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

At the start of More Than and even beyond it, I could feel Peggy’s depression. Her mannerisms and the random thoughts she has throughout her days felt true to life, depicting what someone goes through while dealing with such a significant loss in life. I had the impression that Peggy completely shut herself off from the world, opening up as a conduit for her children, but no one else. Not even herself.

The catalyst is the boot camp class her children have given to her as a gift. This becomes the real potential turnaround in her life. I could feel every inch she gains and the three feet that slips away at every turn while she’s trying to figure out whether or not her well-being should be a priority, whether there is more to life than her favorite TV show and the two children who no longer require her care. There is so much transition, so much healing that Peggy has to work through, and piling on empty nest syndrome only adds to her unsteady world. Even in her successes with boot camp, she has a hard time allowing herself to be the number one reason she should focus on her health. Her reason for wanting to get into shape has everything to do with her deceased husband, hoping if she looks more in line with how she looked before he passed away, that he won’t judge her. That he’ll accept her, if she ever gets the chance to talk with him with the help of a medium.

Above all else, More Than is a metamorphosis, much like the cover depicts. Peggy has to re-discover who she is, because she has no clue. She’s spent so much of her life immersed within her children, or her husband, she’s forgotten who she is. It was beautiful to witness the gradual progression in who she had been, vs. the potential she can become, and along the way I felt like I was right there with her, cheering her on and hoping against all hope that she would find her path to freedom and acceptance.

I had a really hard time putting this book down, from start to finish. The immense highs and lows wouldn’t let me go. Peggy is in inspirational character, but far from perfect, allowing me the opportunity to see my own struggles within hers. A definite five star read!

Thanks to Diane Barnes for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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