Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

Book Cover Image: The Year Everything Changed by Georgia BackovenTitle: The Year Everything Changed

Author: Georgia Bockoven

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):

” ‘As Jessie Patrick Reed’s attorney, I’m writing to you on behalf of your father, Jessie Patrick Reed. I regret to inform you that Mr. Reed is dying. He has expressed a desire to see you…’

Elizabeth, even though sustained by a loving family, has suffered the most from her father’s seeming abandonment and for years has protected herself with a deep-seated anger that she hides from everyone.

Ginger, in love with a married man, will be forced to reevaluate every relationship she’s ever had and will reach stunning conclusions that will change her life forever.

Rachel learns of her father’s existence the same day she finds out that her husband of ten years has had an affair. She will receive the understanding and support she needs to survive from an unlikely and surprising source.

Christine is a young filmmaker, barely out of college, who now must decide if her few precious memories of a man she believed to be long dead are enough to give him a second chance.

Four sisters who never knew the others existed will find strength, love, and answers in the most unexpected places.”

Thoughts: The Year Everything Changed is an immensely readable, albeit predictable, story about family and love. Four women are thrown together at the behest of their biological father. Two never knew him; two were seemingly abandoned by him at young ages. All must adjust their expectations and opinions of him in order to seek closure, if closure is what they seek. No matter what their relationship to their biological father, all must adjust to the fact that they each have three “new” sisters.

There is not much that is a surprise in Georgia Bockoven’s latest novel. The reader can predict every plot twist and turn in the novel several pages, if not chapters, in advance. The characters are one-dimensional with little to no character development. The novel itself is too short to adequately build any empathy with any of the characters or to learn more about them at a level deeper than the superficial. It is a testament to Ms. Bockoven’s writing that in spite of all this, a reader will find it difficult to stop reading. In fact, I would say that I kept reading The Year Everything Changed because of these normally negative elements.

The Year Everything Changed makes no demands on the reader. One only has to suspend a modicum of disbelief at some of the occurrences. The story is prettily written, glossing over some of the more dubious situations with lighthearted grace. It requires no deep philosophical studies but rather shows the ebbs and flows of love – parent, spouse, child – over generations and how one’s perceptions can so easily be skewed by others. It is a simple reminder that one very rarely knows the entire story of someone else’s actions.

The Year Everything Changed fits in to the ubiquitous genre of “chick lit”. I think a more fitting term would be to describe it as “relationship lit” since the novel is more about the relationships between parent and child than about women in general. As expected, there are no earth-shattering revelations. Instead, it is a charming story about love that is ridiculously difficult to put down and that leaves a reader with the all-important “warm fuzzies”. Everyone deserves/ needs a book like this periodically.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Megan Traynor from William Morrow for my review copy!

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