Friday, July 1, 2022

Book Review: Out of the Clear Blue Sky

By Jami Denison

They say that living well is the best revenge, but honestly, a skunk in the middle of your ex-husband’s new house is a great idea, too. Especially when that ex-husband is living in a mansion with his rich fiancée, the woman he dumped you for.

The latest book by New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins, Out of the Clear Blue Sky, is a burningly accurate look at the stages of grief involved when your husband has a midlife crisis and leaves you. At first, Lillie Silva is in denial. Her son Dylan is going away to college, and she thought it was time for her and her husband Brad to recommit to each other—in fact, she’d already planned a vacation to Europe! But instead, Brad is leaving her for Melissa, the wealthy much younger widow that Lillie introduced him to! And Brad, a therapist, has turned into a complete jerk, prioritizing “my joy” instead of his family and rubbing in his new life at every chance he gets. It’s no wonder that Lillie’s denial turns to devastation, and then anger. 

It's easy to root for Lillie, who is an involved mother, a caring friend, and a top mid-wife in their Cape Cod town. But Higgans throws readers a curveball by including Melissa’s point-of-view as well. Born to lower-class “hillbillies” in Appalachian Ohio, at a young age Melissa realized her looks could be her ticket out. Her plotting for a better life seems almost sociopathic, and makes Lillie seem even better by comparison. But eventually, Melissa becomes more human, and Lillie is forced to realize that this woman will be a permanent part of her life.

There is so much collateral damage in a divorce, and Higgins highlights all the harm: the son forced to choose which parent to spend the holidays with. The in-laws who felt like family who’ll never be seen again. The pity from well-meaning friends. 

And the anger. There is so much anger toward the person who destroyed your life in search of “his joy.” 

Warning: If you’ve gone through something similar in your life, Out of the Clear Blue Sky will bring back all those painful feelings. Still, I gobbled up the book in two days. Lillie is a hoot to spend time with, and her friends and complicated extended family complete the picture. Even Melissa won me over after awhile. My only quibbles were about the subplots: One about Lillie’s past that did not fit the comedic tone of the book and seemed out of place, and another about a workplace rivalry that felt unnecessary.

But the characters are fabulous, and the Cape Cod setting is alluring, too. If you’re got plans to visit the Cape this summer, be sure to bring Out of the Clear Blue Sky along with you. But maybe don’t read it while your husband’s in hitting distance. 

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

More by Kristan Higgins:

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