Book Review: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Rating: ★★★✦☆

Spoiler-Free Review

This book is about a widowed woman named Evvie Drake, who carries a lot more baggage than even her loved ones realize. Through her friend Andy’s suggestion, former major-league pitcher Dean Tenney (who, for some unknowable reason is unable to pitch anymore) moves into an empty apartment at the back of her house. The story follows the two as they struggle with their demons both alone and together and learn what it means to move forward.

This book is a contemporary romance novel, so as it tends to be for all romance novels, the ending was pretty predictable. In cases like these, what usually matters more is how you get to the conclusion, and I thought it was so beautifully done! It had a good balance of heart-warming moments where I couldn’t stop smiling and realistic moments that were so raw, and through it all, the story was just so human.

The characters certainly weren’t perfect and all had their questionable moments, and for that, they were so lovable. At times, their conversations were definitely a bit *too* witty and smooth, but it was okay because it’s better to err on the side of cheesiness than to be unenthusiastic. The world-building was the same way: the town wasn’t perfect, but it was just so thoroughly created, with traditions and “scandals” and all.

Something that I’m kind of on the fence about is how I feel about the storyline and the way it’s structured. I’d say the plot was rather slow for the first two-thirds of the novel and only picked up near the end. I do see the benefits of this; it allowed Holmes to really let the characters, especially Evvie, grow in real-time–static moments and all–and allowed for us to experience their struggles with them. However, that made the last “season” of the novel (the book is divided into seasons), where things began to actually turn up, seem a bit rushed. In this last section, rather than feeling like I was growing with Evvie, it felt more as if I was just watching her grow in 2x speed. Still, the ending was so wonderful. There were still loose ends left to tie at the end and Evvie and Dean never got the *perfect* justice most main characters receive, but the ending still felt right.

This leads me to what I loved most about the book–how well it captured reality. Rather than focusing on plot, Holmes focused more on pointing out the most subtle aspects of daily life: the random observations that stray our minds throughout the day, the little habits of we build overtime. Yet, for how seemingly irrelevant these details seemed at times, they managed to make the world, the characters, their struggles, and their imperfections come to life. Holmes still included dramatic moments and artistic metaphors, but for the most part, this book was quiet, reflective, and sweet.

Another thing I loved about the book: the writing style. Holmes was somehow able to distinguish what the characters were thinking vs what the characters thought others were thinking about them. I don’t know if that makes sense, but all I mean to say is just that it was really cleverly written. I also loved how she wrote about some of the “villains” (I put villains in quotation marks because no one was technically evil, just frustrating) in a passive aggressive tone. With this, it seemed like Holmes had anticipated our defensiveness for Evvie and Dean and decided to be defensive with us.

All-in-all, this was a very charming book. I don’t think I was ever able to really “click” with the novel because it took me a while to get used to the slow start, but it was still a really great story and I’d say it’s one of the better, more authentically-written contemporary books I’ve read! 🙂


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