The Life You've Imagined
Author: Kristina Riggle
Genre: Adult fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Challenges: TLC Book Tour
FTC Disclosure: I received this paperback copy of the book free from the publisher as part of the TLC blog tour, but that did not influence my review
Summary (from the back of the book): Are you living the life you imagined? Is there anything you'd have done differently if you could? Those are the questions asked in Kristina Riggle's unforgettable new novel. In high school, Cami and Anna were as close as they could be. Now, years later, both have returned to their hometown to face the people they have left behind. Anna must confront her mother, who is still distraught over the abandonment of her husband, and come to terms with choices she made years before. Meanwhile, Cami returns home to stay with her alcoholic father and faces a secret that she had thought was long buried. This novel that digs deep and touches the heart of the issues many women face--the quest for perfection, the hope of love, the value of family, and the importance of always striving for your dream.
Review: I read this book as part of the TLC Tour and was really looking forward to it. I often think, what if I had.... How would my life be different? So, the theme of this book, the life you imagined, seemed to fit me well. I am afraid that this book probably didnt' get a fair shake from me; I started it just before school began so didn't really get a chance to read it in long sittings (which is what I prefer) and I took a break from it to read Mockingjay. After I finished Mockingjay I was able to give this book more attention so I liked the second half better than the first.
I like how the story alternates points of view each chapter, rotating through Anna (the perfectionist lawyer from Chicago who has come back to help her mom), Cami (Anna's best friend who has a horrible abusive father), Amy (a once very fat girl who is afraid she is going to lose everything she's fought so hard for), and Maeve (Anna's mother who still dreams her husband will return after 20 years). I liked these characters; they are real, believable, vulnerable, and show glimmers of the strength we all wish we had when times get tough.
The story line is also good. I liked the way the characters connected with one another, really giving a sense of the small town and how everyone's lives are intertwined. There are a lot of characters beyond the main four and I feel like I didn't really get to know them well enough to care about them even though they weren't just background. All is not solved at the end of the book, but I definitely got the feeling that there was hope that all was going to be okay. Usually I like that, but I did feel a bit as if things wrapped up a bit too quickly and easily.