Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Published June 2019 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: checked out ebook from my local library
In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her large, painfully empty house nearly a year after her husband’s death in a car crash. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them.
Meanwhile, in New York City, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy’s childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can’t figure out why. As the media storm heats up, an invitation from Andy to stay in Maine seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button on Dean’s future.
When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts—the friendships they’ve damaged, the secrets they’ve kept—but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance—up until the last out.
I know the phrase "chick lit" brings to mind a certain kind of light and frothy rom-com of a book. But if you think of it as "heroine-centered narratives that focus on the trials and tribulations of their individual protagonists," Evvie Drake Starts Over falls into the chick-lit genre in the very best way. It is smart, witty, and, as so many reviewers have called it, charming.
Unlike so much of what falls into the chick-lit genre, this book also has depth, touching on grief, emotional abuse, abandonment, failed dreams and complicated relationships between children and parents. None of it feels forced, which is tough in any book, but especially in a book where you are also trying to keep up a certain level of lightness. I would say to you that you'll know going in that you'll get the happily-ever-after ending you'll want for Evvie and Dean. Except that I wasn't so sure, by the end of the book, that Holmes was going to give me that which I found more than a little impressive.
In a happy coincidence, I was reading this book about a guy who had pitched for the New York Yankees just as I was watching the Yankees play in playoffs. It made the book feel all that much more real for me. Even without that, though, this book feels real. There is a scene where a drunk Andy and a drunk Evvie go after each other and I swear to you that you have heard people talk to each other exactly like this when drunk. Have I ever had a conversation as witty as some of Dean's and Evvie's? Probably not; but they are the kinds of conversations I wish I was having.
Linda Holmes is one of the cohosts of NPR's podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour and the writer and editor of NPR's blog, Monkey See. With all of that going on, I hope she can find time to write another book. She's got a knack for it.