Monday, April 15, 2024

Book Review: When Happily Ever After Fails

By Melissa Smoot

Twentysomething Abigail Gardner’s life is circling the drain. Her parents are dead, her “like a brother” is in love with her, and her nascent career as an art teacher was fully squashed by an unfortunate viral incident involving sophomores and Spanx.

But just as that whirlpool feels poised to suck her down completely, she’s granted a second chance: she lands a teaching job at Excelsior Primm, one of Philadelphia’s oldest and most prestigious preparatory academies. Only problem is, instead of teaching art she’ll be stuck teaching her least favorite subject—literature—and her least favorite theme: tragedy.

Tired of being stuck in her own tragic tale, Abigail starts rewriting every sad ending she can get her hands on, in and out of the classroom. To her surprise, her life soon starts to resemble the fairy tales she adores—great job, hot guy, a career gaining recognition. But when an unexpected plot twist threatens to derail her happy ending, Abigail begins to realize why these conclusions are so hard to come by. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I always love a good prep-school setting. The wealth, the scandal, the competition; It all makes for a great read. While this book was more Gilmore Girls and less Gossip Girl, I really enjoyed it. Deane did a great job of making you love the main character, Abigail, from the first chapter. 

Abigail’s unplanned leap from her career as a high school art teacher to teaching sixth grade literature took an even more unexpected turn when she gets thrown into coaching an extracurricular she knows very little about. What happens next turns Abigail’s happy life of solitude into a whirlwind of rehearsals, crafting, and wine tastings. 

The children that Abigail teaches are some of the most lovable characters and I found myself smiling at the sweet innocence and their bravery and determination. I loved how Deane added in the villainous headmistress and the grouchy school custodian. It rounded out the fabulous cast of characters. While Abigail has suffered her own tragedies in life, one twist of the plot takes us on a much more emotional journey than expected and it starts to change Abigail’s perspective.

This story was wonderful.  I can’t wait to see what Deane writes next. 

Thanks to Books Forward for the book in exchange for an honest review. Purchase When Happily Ever After Fails here.

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