Monday, December 21, 2020

Book Review: Family for Beginners

By Sara Steven

New York florist Flora Donovan is living the dream, but her bubbly optimism hides a secret. She’s lonely. Orphaned as a child, she’s never felt like she’s belonged anywhere…until she meets Jack Parker. He’s the first man to ever really see her, and it’s life changing.

Teenager Izzy Parker is holding it together by her fingertips. Since her mother passed away a year ago, looking after her dad and little sister is the only thing that makes Izzy feel safe. Discovering her father has a new girlfriend is her worst nightmare—she is not in the market for a replacement mom. Then her father invites Flora on their summer vacation…

Flora’s heart aches for Izzy, but she badly wants her relationship with Jack to work. As the summer unfolds, Flora must push her own boundaries to discover parts of herself she never knew existed—and to find the family she’s always wanted.
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

This was a very introspective read for me. Given how this year has gone and how in close proximity I’ve been with my immediate family, I think I sometimes take for granted that I have this group of people who love me and want to be around me. Flora hasn’t had that. In fact, it’s something she yearns for and wishes she could have. When she falls for Jack and he tells her he has two daughters who are reeling after losing their mother, she figures this could be her opportunity in finding a way to help them, and who would know better than she would about the myriad of emotions and experiences that come from losing a loved one.

The ideal is no where near reality. I think Sarah Morgan did a wonderful job of showcasing what it is like to lose someone, particularly for children. While there were moments where I’d start to feel really aggravated by Izzy’s behaviors, especially when it is directed towards Flora, I also realized that it would be very true to life and I like that she didn’t pull any punches with that. It felt like this ever-changing scenario where Flora is trying to find a way to fit in, something she’s never felt like she knows how to do, and Izzy is trying to find some semblance of security after her world has been completely altered forever. The little sister, Molly, appears to be the peacemaker, a potential gateway towards healing, but even that threatens Izzy. Jack is also trying to find a new normal in his life and is trying to move on with Flora, and in many ways appears blind to what is really going on around him.

There are secrets that lurk beneath all of this, adding an even richer element to the story and gives a better view of why Izzy and her father have reacted the way they have. As the book progresses, we get to see a gradual transition of change with all characters involved, along with the perfect addition of Claire, a family friend who I felt provided a nice balance to what is going on with Flora and the children. And as mentioned in the synopsis, there are plenty of boundaries pushed, not only for Flora but for all of the characters, in different ways. It created a means for character evolvement, one of my favorite elements to any story.

Family for Beginners is a deep-rooted love story about family. There are moments of romance and moments of friendship, yet the overwhelming drive is family and how important one can be, whether it’s a family we’ve picked or the one we’re born into. It was beautifully written and a bit of a departure from the other books I’ve read by this author, but in the best of ways.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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