Finished Reading: January 1, 2017
Published: January 31, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher (St. Martin's Press)
You might enjoy this book if you like: Family stories, books with multiple narrators, stories where characters look back on their lives, mother/daughter stories
Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch...until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.
Maddy, however, isn’t ready to leave her family forever. Watching from beyond, she tries to find the perfect replacement for herself. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge...but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal?
I've been doing this book reviewing thing for several years now and, in that time, I have learned that the more you love a book, the harder it is to review it. It is actually quite easy--and even fun--to tear a book you hated apart. But, reviewing something that spoke to you so clearly and resonated with you so deeply is a whole other can of beans.
That being said, this is probably the hardest review I've had to write yet.
First off, I don't want to say that the summary to this book is misleading--it isn't--but I will say that the tone of the book is not what you'd expect from the summary. Don't get me wrong, there is some heavy, heavy stuff here and Fabiaschi doesn't back away from exploring the characters' very strong emotions, but this book is not nearly as full of doom and gloom as one might expect.
I think we can credit the characters for this. Maddy, Brady, and Eve are all so incredibly written that you forget that they are words on the page. Both Brady and Eve deal with both grief and guilt over Maddy's death, but they do so in very distinct ways. Brady deals with the consequences of his professional life and the distance it caused between him and his family. Eve, on the other hand, has a good-sized dose of teenage angst added into the mix. I'll be honest, if Eve had showed up in a different book under different circumstances, I probably would not have been able to stand her. However, she works here in this book and there wasn't a moment when she didn't seem like a realistic teenager thrown into a horrible situation.
The real star of this book is Maddy. Despite being dead and telling her story from the other side, is one of the most vivacious and admirable characters I've read. I wanted to know Maddy--heck, I wanted to BE Maddy and her circumstances only amplified that. I can wish that we all have a Maddy in our lives.
The other element that really stood out to me in this book is that it seems to be on a certain trajectory--which is great. It's nice to know where a book is going. But, by the end, you realize it was never really going there. Now, this could have caused the book to go down in flames and I've certainly seen many books that try to do this end up that way. Yet, Fabiaschi not only makes it work, but this makes the book even more touching than it already was.
I could gush on and on over this one (and I probably will to everyone I meet in person. Considered yourselves spared), but I will end this by saying that this is my new go-to recommendation for pretty much everyone. Do yourself a favor and give it a try!
I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.
Thanks to St. Martin's Press, I have one copy of I Liked My Life to give away to one of my readers. This giveaway is open to entries in the United States and will run until midnight (Pacific Time) on February 6.