How To Walk Away by Katherine Center
I cannot begin to explain how genuinely happy I am that this book was on the BookSparks summer reading challenge this year, as I am not sure if it would have landed on my reading pile otherwise. And that would have been the ultimate shame, because this is one of those books that stole my heart entirely, within a matter of pages, and then ran off with it for the rest of time.
Synopsis: Margaret Jacobsen has it all - the dream job, the gorgeous fiancé so adores and a future that is shining bright. Until it all comes shattering down around her in a single, brutal moment.
In the hospital she is forced to reconcile her new reality, while dealing with the fallout from the accident and navigating the complex world of the old and new relationships in her life.
This story is heartbreaking, inspiring, uplifting, devastating, hilarious, brutal and entirely, gorgeously human. I devoured this story - it captured my heart before I even knew what was happening. Within a matter of chapters I was all in - I wanted to be Margaret's personal cheerleader and protector. I wanted to beat the shit out of Chip. I wanted to eat Chinese food with her sister, Kit. Margaret became as much a part of me as any of my dearest friends.
Any book that sparks this kind of full on range of emotion in me is a huge winner, and this one had me laughing out loud (several times), and crying my eyes out (in devastation and pure joy), sometimes in the span of a few pages. This is a major thing for me as a reader - I read ALOT and this is something that really rarely happens when I read. I might feel for a character, but its rare that I am sitting on my couch sobbing because life is so unfair for them.
This story is also remarkably well researched - meaning that everything medical is logical and sound, and makes the story all the more realistic because this would legitimately be what happens as the outcome of this type of accident. No magical cures or overnight miracles in this story - and I appreciate that as a reader, because, while it can be harder to read (you only want the best for characters you love), it also makes the story a more worthwhile investment of your time when its grounded in reality.
Katherine Center has unreal talent in sharing a character with you in that way that resonates - Margaret felt as real to me as reading about myself, or reading about a close friend. The way she is trapped navigating something she never asked for is raw and real, and makes you want to reach into the pages to help fix this for her. Watching the story unfold, I just kept silently hoping that she was going to get the happy ending I wanted so badly for her (no spoilers here, you are going to have to read this one for yourself to see what happens!)
I also adored the mix of personalities in the characters throughout this story - they were all so dynamic and unique, and fit snugly into the story like puzzle pieces. I found myself just as invested in the stories of Ian, Kit, and Margaret's parents as I was in her story itself. Which means this is a magnificent read for me - I honestly wish there was a second book to this story.
This is officially one of my top-recommended must reads for this summer. I cannot tell you enough how much this book surprised and delighted me, and I hope it does the same for you.