Friday, April 5, 2013

6 Heart Review: And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

And Then I Found You
Patti Callahan Henry

Page Count: 261

Release Date: 9 April 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (MacMillan)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Wunderkind PR in exchange for an honest and unbiased review, for the Itching for Books blog tour
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Kate Vaughan is no stranger to tough choices. She’s made them before. Now it’s time to do it again. 

Kate has a secret, something tucked away in her past. And she’s getting on with her life. Her business is thriving. She has a strong relationship with her family, and a devoted boyfriend whom she wants to love with all her heart. If Kate had ever made a list, Rowan would fill the imagined boxes of a perfect mate. But she wants more than the perfect on paper relationship; she wants a real and imperfect love. That's why, when Kate discovers the small velvet box hidden in Rowan's drawer, she panics.

It always happens this way. Just when Kate thinks she can love, just when she believes she can conquer the fear, she’s filled with dread. And she wants more than anything to make this feeling go away. But how?

When the mistakes have been made and the running is over, it’s time to face the truth. Kate knows this. She understands that a woman can never undo what can never be undone. Yet, for the first time in her life she also knows that she won’t fully love until she confronts those from her past. It’s time to act.

Can she do it? Can she travel to the place where it all began, to the one who shares her secret? Can the lost ever become found?

And Then I Found You gives new life to the phrase “inspired by a true story.” By travelling back to a painful time in her own family’s history, Patti Callahan Henry explores the limits of courage, and the price of a selfless act.

Review


Springtime in Bluffton, South Carolina heralds thirty-five-year-old Kate Vaughan's annual tradition of trying New Things. This spring, her past—which she's tried so hard to keep in place over the past decade—will come marvelously apart; her New Things will make everything change, and everything begin.

Composed of flashbacks of only the component parts of Kate's childhood and early adulthood that have led up to the present moment, And Then I Found You details the most determined, devastating decision a mother should ever have to make. These brief evocations slowly clarify her past, and are intermingled with her current conflicts with Rowan—the perfect boyfriend whom she still isn't completely satisfied with—and with her inability to let go of what's already happened.

Without giving too much away, I will say I was awed by the plot, especially because it actually happened in the author's life, but was very disappointed by the story itself. Don't get me wrong; Henry's prose is elegant and coherent, but I just feel the book as a whole is kind of boring. Everything that happens isn't exciting—at least not as exciting as the author tries to convey it as. She flits across the complexity of human emotion but doesn't exactly capture it, which is why I couldn't connect with this book, either.

My biggest issue however, is Kate. She's just really, really snobby and difficult to understand, or respect, for that matter. I adore all the characters around her, from her sisters to her best friends to her lovers—they are really well created—but she herself is really dislikable. Her mindset is incredibly selfish and stuck up; her mantra is "you don't know what I've experienced so get away from me and stop trying to sympathize with me." I know Henry was trying to convey the difficult emotional burden upon a mother who is forced to part with her child out of "selflessness," but she sacrificed Kate's character to do so. My detachment from and dislike of the protagonist soured the entire mood and perspective of the story.

I was proud at Kate's growth, though; throughout the book, she learns she needs to love herself before loving anyone else, and this is something to which all readers will be able to relate. Compassion, even through wistfulness, matters; you just have to be willing to freely give it.

Pros


Henry is an accomplished storyteller // Secondary characters are lovable // Fascinating premise // Kate's character development is clear

Cons


Highly dislikable protagonist // Style is decent, but really mediocre... very forgettable // Not that resonating // Predictable, unsatisfying ending // Rather dull and not suspenseful throughout

Love

People talked about heartbreak, but in Kate's opinion, hearts don't break, they merely ache and throb until you learn to ignore that same heart all together.

Verdict


And Then I Found You wasn't as I good as I thought it would be. The plot revolving around a mother reuniting with her long-lost daughter seemed touching, but in the book, it just isn't portrayed very movingly. However, I am impressed with Patricia Callahan Henry's ability to craft a beautiful, feel-good story about self-actualization and self-discovery. The overarching message is quite affecting as well; this is a book about loss, and about finding—both those you love, and yourself Americanflag

6 hearts: Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back (x)