Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Book Review: Finding Tranquility

By Sara Steven

Jess Cooper lost her husband on 9/11. Just not in the way she thought.

On September 11, 2001, Brett Cooper checks into a flight to go on an interview for a job he doesn’t want, in a city where he doesn’t want to live. All to make his wife happy. He loves her, but he’s not happy in his marriage. Or in his body, really. As boarding begins, Brett panics and gives his ticket away. When his plane strikes the World Trade Center, he realizes that he's been given a second chance to live the life he always wanted.

Brett disappears into the chaos, hoping to figure out who he’s meant to be. With help from some new friends, Brett begins to transition into Christa. A tragedy sends Christa further north to Canada, where she builds a new life. For eighteen years, Christa’s life is peaceful and easy until she runs into Jess. Jess used her husband's life insurance to go to medical school. When she discovers that she's actually not a widow, it throws her entire future into question. Making matters more complicated is the discovery that all of the love Jess held for her spouse is alive and well. Christa and Jess must figure out what the future holds for them—if Christa has a future at all, with the reemergence of the missing Canadian woman whose identity Christa “borrowed”.

Can love conquer all, or is it sometimes better to let go? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Finding Tranquility was yet another unique read by Laura Heffernan. Her characters are often complicated and not one dimensional, as with the primary characters here. At first, I found it hard to relate with Brett and the decision he made in walking away from his wife. But as the story progresses and I learned more about him, I realized that there is a lot of inner struggle going on, and in walking away and starting over, it was a way to live the life he wanted, much like the synopsis suggests.

The path he takes is one riddled with not only self-discovery, but hardship. My heart hurt for him. I felt that Heffernan delved into the journey beautifully, gradually allowing us to see the type of growth and transition Brett goes through in becoming who he has always felt he should be, Christa. While it might have felt a bit easy to put her wife, Jess, back in Christa’s wife coincidentally, stranger things really have happened. And at some point, it stood to reason that Christa would have to come to terms with the decisions she’s made and would have to account for it with the one person she had loved most in her life.

There are a lot of dramatic moments, one being the missing woman whom Christa borrowed her identity from. I loved the stacking of the cards here, that first, Christa runs into her wife and has to figure out where to go from there, and then, the dealings with a woman who sets out to try to elicit some sort of payback for the fact that Christa has lived the life the missing woman never got to live. It’s another unique obstacle that really added to the suspense and drama. 

The reactions all of the characters have to one another, the choices made, the secrets that have been kept hidden for years, and surprising revelations made Finding Tranquility an eye-opening read, and one that I feel deserves five stars!

Thanks to Laura Heffernan for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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