I like to try new things in life. Eat new foods, see new places, read different types of books. But when an author contacts me out of the blue with a request to read and review his/her book, and it is the first time I have heard of them, or would potentially read their book, I get a little excitedly nervous. Am I going to like this book, am I going to be able to write a review that will be constructive, and true to my opinion without hurting an author’s feelings? I have in the past read books, and then denied reviewing due to the poor quality or ridiculousness of the book. I have even started, and had to quit after getting into the project halfway, because it was beyond awful.
Then there are these wonderful moments when I nervously start a new book, by a fairly unknown (to me anyways 🙂 ) author, and I am blown away by the amazingness that I have just encountered!
This book was one of those wonderful moments!
From the outside, Kirk and Jamie appear to have a beautiful home and the perfect marriage. Inside, the aging Craftsman is falling apart, their marriage is crumbling from neglect, and Jamie Royce wants out! Kirk, on the other hand, isn’t ready to give up on either the house or their relationship.
With their divorce scheduled for the day after their daughter’s high school graduation, Jamie and Kirk have to fix the home’s problems to lift their selling price out of the basement. Working to renovate the home together, they discover secrets—in the home, in their marriage, and in the fertility clinic that helped give them their daughter—and find themselves questioning what true love really is.
As stated in the synopsis, Jamie and Kirk have been married for about 24 years. They seem to have an adequate marriage, but if you look closely, it isn’t even adequate at all. They both have lost their drive in the marriage, and have slowly given up on each other.
They have been in this state for a while, but have always decided to stay together for their wonderful daughter Kerrigan. She is the light in both of their lives, and they don’t want to disrupt her senior year with a divorce.
Their house, which was a gift from Kirk’s mother, is slowly falling apart from the inside. Jamie has also never liked the home, and when there is yet another leak in the bathroom, they end up in another fight over the disaster of their home. In a heated moment Jamie gives Kirk the dreaded ultimatum. They need to fix up the house so it can be sold for a decent price when they get divorced. And Jamie wants to get that divorce the day after Kerrigan graduates.
So the remodelling starts. And as they start fixing the house, they discover that 24 years of neglect have made it a much bigger task then they both might have initially thought it to be. That counts for both their home and their marriage.
This book reads very fast, and had me turning page after page to continue the story. I was literally taken into their world, and connected to both Jamie and Kirk. As the book is written in the third person, and gives a look into both their perspectives, you get both a pretty complete idea of the full story. As they encounter problems now, they recount important moments in their past helping you form a picture of who these characters really are.
Also the extra aspects in the story, the mysteries of the home, the scandel at the clinic, add an extra depth to this read, and make for a very enjoyable surprise.
This book also was very thought provoking. Just like a remodelling of that scale is hard work, so is a marriage, and definitely if you let things slip for so long. I remember once having a conversation with someone. She seemed to think that marriage should not be hard work. If so, she didn’t want part of it. I just thought to myself, you will see. I have been married for almost 15 years, and I adore my husband. But it is work to make 15 years work, and I know we will always have to work at it. If you don’t fix a leaky pipe, or repaint a room when it needs to be done, you might find you are left with a disaster after years have passed. And then you need to decide if you are willing to strip all the bad parts out, and get it fixed, or sell and move on.
This book had me think about where I’m at. Although I am very happy, I realise that I need to continue putting the effort in. I need to continue to help my marriage grow and expand. That comes through doing things together, searching out new and exciting experiences, and keeping the passion alive.
I think this book is a great read for anyone at any point in life. Whether you are just beginning your adult life and haven’t a clue about marriage, or you have been together for years, this can help you gain a better perspective about what it is you want in life. This books focusses on being together as a couple and also not losing your own identity in a relationship. So many people make the mistake of focussing on the kids and neglect their partner, or spend too much or not enough time on a hobby or pastime. It is so important to find the right balance, and also learn to prioritize the important stuff in life. And that is something that needs the right attention and re-evaluation often.
I cannot stress enough the greatness of this book, the fun way they found their way back to each other, and how Jamie and Kirk’s story teach all who read this book a great many life lessons.
Note: Each chapter starts with a DIY tip, and they add a nice touch to the book. Yet certain decorating tips just sounds wrong for the European public. I guess styles differ over the continents.
About the author
When Maria Hoagland is not working at her computer, she can be found walking barefoot in soft grass, remodeling houses with her husband, or enjoying campfires with their three children. She loves crunching leaves in the fall, stealing cookie dough from the mixing bowl, and listening to musicals on her iPod. Maria earned her degree at Brigham Young University.