Evvie Drake Starts Over is about a young widow who’s stuck in one of those places in life that can be hard to get out of. I would say this book is mostly a romance, but it also has strong themes of friendship, family, and breaking free of what’s holding you back to finally move forward.
I decided recently, after reading a string of depressing novels, that I need to read more “light but smart” books. This mostly fits the category. Although it deals with some serious topics, it never feels overly heavy. And parts of it are quite funny, especially the dialog. The characters frequently engage in witty exchanges that make me smile. It’s hard to write clever dialog but the author nails it.
Evvie Drake’s husband is killed in a car accident on the day she was leaving him. In fact, she was packing her car when she got the call from the hospital. She was leaving because he was a louse, although he managed to maintain a facade that had everyone else admiring him. Evvie had been stuck living a lie in her marriage, pretending everything was great, and now she’s stuck in the same lie as a widow, pretending to mourn. Out of a sense of obligation, she doesn’t tell the truth about her husband, not even to her best friend.
Evvie’s husband did a number on her self-confidence, and now she’s stuck in the house her husband chose without the wherewithal to break out of her funk. I know it sounds a little depressing, but Dean arrives just in time to lighten things up. Dean is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who rents the apartment attached to Evvie’s house. His career ended in catastrophic failure – he just suddenly couldn’t pitch anymore. Tired of the ridicule from fans and the press, he escapes to the small Maine town where Evvie lives.
Although they live under the same roof, it takes a while for the romance to get started. These are two wounded people who aren’t ready for romance, but start off with a nice friendship (complete with witty dialog). They both have their own issues to work through, and one of them hits rock bottom before they’re able to make progress in their life and their relationship (Hint: it’s Evvie).
I liked the book. I cared about what happened to the characters, there’s a great example of a strong, platonic friendship and the characters mostly had healthy relationships with their parents (take heed, Olive Kitteridge). I also liked that Evvie and Dean weren’t perfect. They both came with baggage and they were willing to help each other work through their “stuff.” It did drag a bit in places, especially towards the end, but that wasn’t a deal breaker for me.
Evvie Drake Starts Over won’t win any prestigious literary prizes, but it was the “light but smart” read I was looking for. I recommend it to anyone who likes realistic contemporary romances with likable characters and funny dialog.
Have you read anything “light but smart” recently? Please share in the comments section.