Gemma, not Jane: The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

As much as I love to read, I have never been very into reading traditional "classics".  I enjoy the themes and stories in and of themselves, but I have trouble moving past the flowery, old-fashioned language to figure out what was really happening.

That said, I have found a few exceptions to my general distaste for classics.  We read Wuthering Heights in my 8th grade honor's English class, and I have loved it ever since.  I finally succumbed to literary influences and read Pride and Prejudice a couple of years ago, and found, to my surprise, that it is every bit as good as everyone says.  Jane Eyre was required reading in one of my high school English courses, and was one I actually completed.  I re-read it about two years ago and enjoyed it quite a bit, confirming that I don't dislike all classics, just the ones that have a storyline I cannot follow or that doesn't interest me (which, naturally, holds true for modern fiction as well!).

Due in part to the recent reread of Jane Eyre, my interest was piqued by Margot Livesey's The Flight of Gemma Hardy, which is billed as a sort of modern-day Jane Eyre.  I was not sure exactly what to expect from this "recasting" of Jane Eyre, as the author describes it in her introduction, but I soon found myself just as enamored with little Gemma as I had been with Jane.

Readers of Jane Eyre will find some parts of Gemma's story immediately recognizable.  Although The Flight of Gemma Hardy is set largely in Scotland in the 1950s and 1960s, the language and surroundings make the time period easy to forget.  For roughly the first half of the book, I found myself forgetting that it was not some long-past generation, but the 20th century.  Gemma's background is similar to Jane's, though there is a tie to Iceland that brings a new aspect to the story.

Although I felt as if I knew what was coming next for much of the book, I never got bored with the story.  It was familiar in places; surprising in others.  There are more modern elements later in the story, once Gemma has left Claypoole, the boarding school she attends as a child.  Overall, I liked the second half of the book more than the first, largely because it was a little more different from the story I had expected.

The writing in The Flight of Gemma Hardy is beautifully done, especially considering the author was juggling between time periods and several different settings.  I particularly loved the characters from the second half of the book (there weren't many lovable people in the first half, after all):  Mr. Sinclair, Vicky, Hannah, Pauline, Archie, and my favorite, sweet little Nell. 

Those familiar with Jane Eyre may find themselves waiting for, and guessing at, the comparable mystery aspect of Gemma Hardy.  While there is a revelation that changes the course of Gemma's life, it was quite a bit different from Jane's story.  I would go so far as to say that, compared to Rochester's confession in Jane Eyre, it fell a bit flat.  Still, Gemma Hardy is a different time and place, and the mysterious revelation worked well enough for the story.  Had it been anything bigger or more scandalous, I might have felt my attitude toward Mr. Sinclair change.  As it was, I thought Gemma far overreacted...but a girl of nineteen in the 1960s and a girl of nineteen in Jane Eyre's world are two completely different creatures.  Ultimately, Gemma's overreaction fit her character and the resulting separation gave her time and space to grow and pursue her own dreams.

I love a story that can transport me to a totally different world, and The Flight of Gemma Hardy definitely had that effect on me.  It is a beautifully written, reimagining (having read it, I will grant that it is much more than a simple retelling) of a beloved classic.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in classics, or like me, in a good story that happens to have some similar elements to an old standard.
 **I am participating in a blog tour with TLC Book Tours.  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  The Flight of Gemma Hardy is available now.


Friday Five--Toddler Talk

  • Sometimes I forget how very closely the girls listen to everything we say in their presence.  A few weeks ago, I was digging through the out-of-control sippy-cup drawer to find a matching lid.  I didn't think too much about my frustration until, a day or two later, Mackenzie was playing in the same drawer, shouting, "Where's the freakin' lid??"  Oops!  At least it wasn't anything worse, I guess?

  • When the girls say something they aren't sure they should be saying (like 'freaking'), they will turn to one of us and ask, "Is [random word] nice to say?"  It cracks me up, and I love that they care enough to ask...I am sure the day will come when they seek out those not-nice words.

  • We have been teaching the girls when it is appropriate to say 'God' (i.e. when we are talking about God, church, etc.).  They had heard the phrase "Oh my God" somewhere, and started asking questions about it.  We tried to explain that we are not supposed to use that phrase, and to say "goodness" or "gosh" instead.  A & M have done very well not repeating that saying, but they are VERY quick to point out when they hear it elsewhere.  (It is on Shrek, which is the ONLY DVD that plays in my car--random, I know--and they never fail to point it out.  They also never miss the phrase 'shut up', but we haven't had many problems with that one...yet.)

  • Speaking of phrases the girls never miss, Jeremy and I totally failed that lesson that says if you hear something you don't want your kids to notice, don't draw attention to it.  One day last weekend, the four of us were in our bedroom hanging out.  I think I had just had a shower, so Pandora radio was still playing on my iPhone in the bathroom.  We were alternatively dancing around to the music and playing around in the floor, when this song came blaring out of the speakers.  (That link is just the lyrics--no music!)  Jeremy and both stopped in mid-sentence and looked at each other with wide eyes.  He jumped up and ran into the bathroom to skip that song, while I burst out laughing.  (Mom of the year, right here!)  Luckily, the girls somehow overlooked the whole situation, and to my knowledge, that word has not entered their vocabulary.  It was a close one, though!  
  • A & M are really into playing 'babies' these days.  They take turns pretending to put one another down for naps, feeding pretend bottles, and reading to each other.  It's all very cute and funny to watch, but they are starting to put some 'baby talk' with this game...which is NOT so cute.  We are supposed to be long past the stage of unintelligible words and whines.  When they get in the mood of whining and pointing, I have to remind them to use their words and tell them they are big girls now.  I can handle the pretend baby stuff, but there will be no more deciphering noises and whines when I know good and well they can say whatever they want.
 I called this post Toddler Talk because I can't resist alliteration, but my girls really don't feel like toddlers anymore.  They are quickly moving into the little girl stage, and I really love it.  Sure, I miss things about the baby stages on occasion, but there are so many more things to look forward to!  What do we call these kids after 'toddlers'?  Preschoolers?

All I know is that my almost-three-year-olds are pretty freakin' awesome!  

Shopping on mama's day off


I made a skirt (yes, really!)

The major item on my Christmas wishlist last year was a new sewing machine.  Jeremy took heed of my not-so-subtle hints and procured a sewing machine for me.  (Actually, I just realized that I got everything on that wishlist, except for the Veronica Mars DVDs...awesome!)

As soon as the dust settled from our Christmas morning celebrations, I pulled my new sewing machine out of the box and sat down with the manual to learn how to get started.  Much to my surprise, it went pretty smoothly.  By the end of the weekend, I was trying out different stitches on scrap pieces of fabric, practicing sewing straight lines and curves.

My sister and I worked on these headbands/bracelets, and I made a few other "scrap bracelets" for the girls.  Laura (who took a sewing class many years ago, at maybe 13 or so?  She has always been more 'domestic' than me) told me to sew something together, promising it would make me feel very accomplished, and she was right.  I had have a long way to go, but I was proud of myself for even learning how to thread the machine!

I haven't had a whole lot of time to devote to sewing in the weeks since Christmas, but I do pull it out occasionally when I have a free hour or two.  I have pinned lots of ideas to my Learn to Sew board, but so much of it is either way out of my league or would require time I just don't have right now.

When the girls decided they want a Wizard of Oz-themed birthday party, I began to consider the idea of making them blue gingham skirts and matching "3" t-shirts.  I set off looking for a simple skirt pattern.  I quickly found this one, via Pinterest of course, and marked it as something I might be able to accomplish.  Though the girls have now set me straight on the fact that Dorothy wears a DRESS, not a SKIRT, I kept the idea in mind.

Saturday night I pulled out some fabric and pulled up the tutorial on my computer.  I guessed at the measurements, and went a little shorter in length in order to use the fabric I had on hand, but within two hours, I had produced...

I made a skirt!

an honest-to-goodness, fairly decent-looking skirt!

I knew Mackenzie would love it--she loves purple--and I was right.  She couldn't wait to try it on.   To my (and Jeremy's) amazement, it fit!  Mackenzie was carried away with her new skirt, and wore it over her pajamas all afternoon.  (We all usually change back into pajamas after church on Sunday...it's my favorite afternoon of the week.)

Naturally, I couldn't wait to try again, so I let Addison pick out fabric for her skirt on Sunday night.  I made this one a little longer and a little fuller, and I am happy to report that it took much less time...maybe an hour total.  

My Mackenzie is a little obsessed with skirts and dresses, or "ballerinas", as she calls them.  When she saw that the second skirt was fuller and slightly more poufy (like a ballerina's should be, I guess), she quickly negotiated a trade with Addison to take over the second skirt.  Luckily, Addison is pretty easygoing sometimes, and agreed without argument.

I don't have a good picture of the second one, but Mackenzie is wearing it while trying out a couch at Costco on Monday:

And Addison was perfectly happy with the purple one (and my Diet Coke):

Naturally, my first attempts are far from perfect, but I'm still ridiculously proud.  I MADE something! Stay tuned--it could get all kinds of crafty up in here...


Monday on a Tuesday

We had a great weekend, complete with an extra day off yesterday.  Friday night, the girls went to spend the night with Jeremy's parents.  We decided to go ahead and eat dinner with his family instead of going somewhere else, since every restaurant seemed to be packed.  Late Valentine's celebrations, I guess...it was ours too!

After dinner, the girls went off with their grandparents and Jeremy and I went to see The Vow.  It was...alright...some things about the characters really irritated me.  Still, it was nice to sit in a theater next to my husband and do nothing but take in the movie for about two hours.

I made a quick Target run right before the movie and ran into a local blog friend (It was great to catch up for a few minutes, Iana!  We should really get our kids together sometime!).  I also snagged this necklace on clearance for $2.40 that I am a little bit in love with:

The Gemini symbol (my astrological sign)...also the symbol for TWINS!  : )
Jeremy and I spent our child-free Saturday morning piddling around the house.  I finally started a project I have been intending to work on for months.  After a morning spent in Jeremy's workshop and one trip to Home Depot, this desk

desk before

became this:

Painted desk

It is still far from perfect, and I have already put a couple of spots on the top (because I didn't wait long enough before setting the heavy sewing machine on it), but it is a great improvement.  I used spray paint and it was pretty easy, so there's no telling what piece of furniture I will attack next!  I do want to make a little skirt for the desk, to hide the cords and stool, and I need some baskets for the open shelves on the end.  I don't really know if the desk is going to stay where it is (in the kitchen) or move somewhere else, but at least it is now in the house and functional.  Progress!

The rest of our weekend was pretty quiet.  We hung out at home, had a fantastic Sunday lunch with just the four of us (a rarity!), and did lots of reading (rainboots optional).

Rain boots


Random Addison quote from lunch on Sunday:  "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!"  

I love that my baby quotes one of my favorite shows (I Love Lucy) without having any idea what she's talking about.  (She picked it up from her silly father a couple of weeks ago.)  : )


Some things I've read lately

The Fallback Plan, by Leigh Stein
There is a shortage of fiction for characters between the ages of 20-25.  The post-college, early-adult years are vastly underrepresented, which is sad, because it can be such a pivotal point in life.  Stein explores this genre in The Fallback Plan, and I wish more authors would follow suit.

Esther has returned home to her parents house after college, and she is trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life.  Like so many of us at that age, she makes some less-than-stellar decisions.  It is pretty clear that Esther has some depression issues and her listless attitude was frustrating at times.

The plot thickens when Esther begins babysitting for a local family.  It quickly becomes obvious that Amy, Nate, and little May are dealing with issues far heavier than Esther's.  Some scenes were heartbreaking; at other times I wanted to shake all the main characters and tell them to grow the heck up already.  Life is not always the way we expect, but we deal with it.  I think by the end of the book, Esther may finally be ready to face her life, wherever it may lead.

The Fallback Plan is a quick read, not completely enthralling, but a welcome addition to a very lacking representation in fiction.
**Copy received from the publisher via NetGalley.  The Fallback Plan is available now.

How to Eat a Cupcake, by Meg Donahue
I read How to Eat a Cupcake way back during our beach trip last September.  I really, really liked this book and read it in just a day or two.  It is the story of two old friends, Annie and Julia, who grew up in the same house but came from two very different worlds.  The two fell out of touch after a major fight as teenagers and moved in opposite directions in their young adult lives.  Circumstances bring the two back together some ten years later, when businesswoman Julia convinces Annie to partner up to open a cupcake shop, where they will sell Annie's culinary creations.

From the description, this sounds like good old-fashioned chick-lit, and that is not far from the truth.  Personally, I love a light and fun chick-lit story every once in awhile, and How to Eat a Cupcake has enough mystery and plot to keep it interesting and entertaining.  I especially came to love Annie, and I loved seeing her develop a bit of confidence throughout the book.  She's definitely the type of character I would like to be friends with...plus, her cupcake creations leave me drooling!

How to Eat a Cupcake will be available in March, and I definitely recommend grabbing it up for your next beach vacation.
**Copy received from the publisher via NetGalley.

A Crack in Everything, by Angela Gerst
I love a good mystery and I love the political world, so this book should have been right up my alley.  Unfortunately, it fell a bit flat for me.  The plot was a good one in theory, and I didn't really figure out the mystery until the end (I hate when I can identify the killer from the first few chapters), so it did have some good points.  There were too many characters introduced too quickly, and I never felt a connection to any of them.

Still, the book has pretty good reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, so maybe it's just me?
**Copy received from the publisher via NetGalley.  A Crack in Everything is available now.

The Next Door Boys, by Jolene Perry
I was excited to start on this book when I received it, and not just because it is set in that college time period I was just complaining we don't see often enough.  The description pulled me in:  Leigh is a cancer survivor, trying desperately to get on with her life, when she "discovers what it actually means to stand on her own and learns that love can be found in unexpected but delightful places".  Sounds fun, right?

Once I started reading, I was surprised to find that the characters are devout Mormons and their religion plays a substantial role in the story.  This doesn't bother me--I like when characters actually acknowledge religion, instead of leaving it out entirely as so many books do, to be more generally appealing, I guess.  I am not Mormon (obviously?), so I missed some of the references and had to stop and piece the meaning together in some instances, but I didn't feel like it subtracted from the plot at all.

The first time I started this book, I lost interest and put it down.  I picked it up again a couple of weeks later and ended up really liking most of it.  Despite the fact that it wasn't what I originally expected, The Next Door Boys is an enjoyable story with moral characters and storylines that can sometimes be hard to find in modern young-adult fiction.
**Copy received from the publisher via NetGalley.  The Next Door Boys is available now.

Have you read anything good lately??


Lazy Days

As a mom who works outside the home full time during the week, I feel like our evenings are a rush of playtime, dinner, baths, and as much quality snuggling/reading/rocking time as we can fit in the hours between 4:30 and 8:30. 

Largely because of the rush-rush-rush of our weeknights, I find myself enjoying lazy weekends at home more and more.  I used to feel we had to plan something special for the weekend--you know, fun family activities to make our quality time together even more exciting.  I am sure that as the weather warms up and the spring sunshine begs us to take advantage, we will begin to fill the weekends with plans and activities again.

For now, though, we are all enjoying the peace and contentment of quiet days at home.  My favorite weekends are the ones when we have absolutely nothing on the agenda, when we are free to come and go as we please...or to spend the entire day in pajamas, playing with baby dolls, drinking coffee (both the real and pretend kinds), running races down the hall, coloring, cutting, gluing, and snuggling up to watch a movie on the couch.

Weekends with these cutie-pies?  Yes, please!

Buggy ride

Even on our lazy weekends, the library is a must-do at least one or two Saturday mornings every month.  I love that my girls love the library!

Library fun

Library card

Paw Paw's birthday
With Paw Paw (my dad) on his birthday last week)
What do your weekends look like?  Do you prefer to have lots on the agenda, or are you happiest hanging out at home?


Diet & Exercise

As I mentioned last week, I have decided it is time to take a few serious steps toward improving my weight and health. I know myself well enough to know that I am not going to stick with any kind of drastic, all-or-nothing plan, but small steps toward the goal are better than no steps, right?

According to my profile on the My Fitness Pal app, my goal is 1200 calories per day. Honestly, I have never counted calories before in my life, but I knew for certain that I had been eating far more than 1200 calories every day.  I was not sure I could make it through a day eating so little!

To my surprise, I have survived at or around 1200 calories for about two weeks now...during the week, at least. Weekends, so far, have been a bit of a problem to get under control.  I don't go all-out and eat everything in sight on weekends, but I definitely relax the weekday standards. I know I have to change that, and I really am working on it. As part of our efforts to scale back the budget, we are trying to eat out less and plan good, healthy meals at home more often.

The frustrating part is that even after meeting my calorie goals each weekday, I think I might be down about one pound. Very, very discouraging.

I am working on incorporating more exercise this week, which is also an area where I have plenty of room for improvement. Again, I know myself well enough not to set my expectations too high, so I am starting with very minimum goals. I am still enjoying this power yoga/pilates workout on Netflix, and I like doing Just Dance on the Wii sometimes. I will never, ever, ever like running, but I do enjoy walking when I can work it in. That's really the key for me, I think...I have to find time to work something in. I am hopeful that at least a minimum level of regular exercise combined with my 1200-calorie diet (ugh!) will begin to make a difference.

Now tell me...
How do you control your diet on the weekends? Do you eat relatively the same every day, or do you have a designated splurge day? Breakfast is a hard meal for me to add variety--what is your standard weekday breakfast?


The State of Affairs, January Edition

Trips I took:  2
Jeremy and I spent New Year's Eve in Atlanta watching Auburn play in the Chick-Fil-A bowl.  We had a very low-key night away, complete with a leisurely breakfast before heading home the next day.  It was nice to have a full day and night for just the two of us.

I had my first solo weekend away when I went with our youth group on a retreat.  It turned out to be one of my favorite youth trips ever.  The adults were not called upon to do much other than make sure our kids were where they needed to be, so I had a good bit of free time to read and relax in the serenity of the wilderness around us.  I will definitely sign up to repeat this trip next year.

Books I read: 2.5
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone--This was the first time I have reread this book in many years, and I felt the magic of the Harry Potter world all over again.  Reading from this perspective, in which I know the scope and depth of the saga and how enormously it would impact our culture, I couldn't help but marvel at what Rowling created.  How does a mind even begin to craft something that amazing?

First You Try Everything--An honest, upfront, and heartbreaking look at the demise of a marriage and a woman who has moved far past the point of desperation. 

Laugh with the Moon--Reading this now, and the more I read, the more I enjoy it.

The soundtrack of the month was mostly a combination of Mumford & Sons and Peter Eide (who performed at the youth conference).  I am no musical trendsetter, and I am usually far behind everyone else in musical discoveries, but I do love just about every song on the Mumford & Sons Pandora station.  I also began listening to NeedtoBreathe this month, and I will probably be exploring that one a little more soon.

Milestones/Notable Memories
The weekend of my youth retreat was Jeremy's first weekend alone with the girls.  It went really well...as far as I am aware, anyway!  : )  I understand there was a little crying for me at bedtime, but not as much as I had feared.  Overall, I think it was a success and gave the girls a great chance to have quality time with their daddy.

Addison & Mackenzie had their first hibachi experience at our favorite Japanese restaurant.  The first visit went very well, and they have already told anyone who would listen that they would like to go back soon.

On the last weekend in January, A & M attended the birthday party of a friend from school.  This was the first time we have been to a birthday party for a classmate, where Jeremy and I didn't really know the parents and/or the family.  The girls had a great time and there were some amazing cupcakes, so I count it as a win.

We bought our first Mac, and we are loving it so far.  Need to learn how to use a lot of it, but loving it nonetheless.

Alabama beat LSU to become National Champions once again!  We also won in 2009, and Auburn won last year, so it has been a good three years for our state.  Roll Tide!!

Random Notes for the Month
While not exactly a New Year's Resolution, I decided to get serious about my weight and my health.  I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app to track my food and exercise, and it's really helping me to think about every bite of food I put in my mouth.  I'm still working on the exercise part of the equation, but I did this yoga/Pilates workout tonight (on Netflix instant!), and to my surprise, I really enjoyed it.  Maybe there's hope for me yet?

I also decided it is time for us to get serious about our money.  This is a decision I make every few months or so, but I hope to really get something on track this time.  Mostly, I want to figure out where our "lost" money is going and use it in a more positive and intentional way.  Jeremy is not as gung-ho as I am at this point, but I'll get him on board.  I am working on procuring a copy of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.  Anyone done the Dave Ramsey thing?  I'd love to hear your experiences.

It has been crazy warm here for January (in the 60s!), but very rainy.  We have done our best to take advantage of the mild weather and have spent a few afternoons outside.  While I wouldn't mind seeing a little snow this year, it is hard to complain about open-windows weather in the middle of winter.

I am feeling very busy with extra projects right now.  I am teaching a new course at the college, in addition to the old one.  I am also working on preparing a grant application for our court system, which I will be working pretty hard on next month.  Side jobs give me something productive to do and bring in some extra income, so I am NOT complaining.

How was your January??


Drama, Drama, Drama

There are so many things about this stage with the girls that I absolutely love.  We feel more free to go and do things than any other time in the past three years, and we take advantage of that freedom.  Addison and Mackenzie are stinkin' hilarious, and the quality of our conversations is almost unbelievable.  I would not trade these days for anything that has been or is to come, as most of them are just magical.


I think we are also beginning to experience some of the attitudes and emotions that come with age three (even though we won't be there officially for another two months!).

I have heard many people say that the twos were so bad, but three is the age you really have to watch out for.  (In fact, my friend Mandy was lamenting this fact just the other night...)  Honestly, part of me thought how bad can it really be?  I have survived two newborns, two screaming and hungry infants, many sleepless nights, and two rounds of potty training.  Surely I can handle a bit of attitude, right?

I am quickly realizing that "a bit of attitude" might be a pretty major understatement, and that we just might have our hands more than full for the next, oh, EIGHTEEN years or so.  The drama in this house during the past week alone has wrecked me.  I am finding myself far too short-tempered, and I have done more yelling than is ever necessary.  And the thing is, my little darlings have an uncanny ability to completely and totally tune out my every word.  Their intentional obliviousness makes me furious, and I end up yelling for real, which hurts their feelings and leaves me feeling both mad and ashamed.

I told Jeremy today that I am so OVER his not being home at night, which is unfair to him, but is the absolute truth this week.  I know it wouldn't solve everything, but some nights I just need another adult to make me feel a little more sane.  I can only handle so many bouts of whining and fighting over every little thing.  And the unreasonable and never-ending demands...it would definitely be nice to have some help in answering and/or dissuading those.  Mostly, though, it would be nice to have Jeremy home because he is so much more patient with the girls than I am.  When he is around, I can step back when I need to and let him take charge while I cool off.  When it's just me, it is too easy to fall into the pattern of fuss/yell/guilt.

Though I really do hope that Jeremy's job will soon change in a way that will allow him to be home at night, I realize that the issue lies primarily with me.  Attitude and emotion are going to be part of parenting girls, at all stages.  I come from a family of strong-willed women, so I should expect nothing less from Addison & Mackenzie.  Really, I would not have it any other way, as I happen to think the strong-willed women in my life are nothing short of amazing.  I just have to find a better way of managing my own attitude and remember that I am the primary model for the girls' behavior.

At this age, when things are good, they are great, but when things are not so good, we all quickly turn into a royal mess.  I am going to try my best to make sure I am doing my part to minimize those less-than-great times.  When those difficult moments inevitably come around, I will try to react in a way that improves the situation, rather than increasing the tension of it.  I hope, as we ALL learn to manage our emotions a little better, this stage will stop feeling so daunting.  Because tonight, I am exhausted.

But these girls?  Oh so worth it.

Enjoying a beautiful afternoon

Is the attitude rearing its head at your house yet?  Any tips for managing it??  (In other words, should I just go ahead and take up drinking now?)


First You Try Everything, by Jane McAfferty

First You Try Everything.jpgFirst You Try Everything by Jane McAfferty is a gripping and heartbreaking tale of the dismantling of a marriage.  Ben and Evvie spent many years happily encased in the life they built for themselves, somewhat isolated from mainstream society.  At some point, Ben has decided that his life with Evvie is no longer enough, and just a few pages into the book, it is clear he will be leaving her to begin a new life elsewhere.

One of my absolute favorite things about this book is the switch between Ben and Evvie's points of view.  From the beginning, it is pretty obvious that Evvie is a little off; her actions seem a bit manic at times.  I would find myself questioning how exactly the seemingly-normal Ben had managed to spend so many years with her, then the viewpoint would change and I would see her in a different light.  Occasionally I would think Ben was being incredibly selfish, then I would read a chapter from his view and my emotions would change again.  The flip-flop between the two characters was incredibly well written, and I found myself sympathizing with both of them in turn.

After Ben leaves, Evvie's quirks deepen and her grasp on reality begins to slip.  It is both heartbreaking and maddening to watch her doggedly pursuing Ben, knowing that he no longer wants the life he had built with her.  When Evvie's obsession leads her to a dangerous (and a bit ridiculous) scheme, we realize just how much damage two people really can do to one another.

As I said, I sympathized with both characters, but I also wanted to shake them and tell them to grow up.  Stand up for yourself, Evvie, and get in the real world!  Ben-have a real, grown-up conversation with your wife instead of just walking out!  Ultimately, it was the ability to identify with both characters in the midst of their very different levels of heartbreak that made this novel really work for me.  Although things might not have turned out exactly like I hoped they would, I was happy that Evvie found some peace for herself in the end.

I very much enjoyed this book, and I feel like there were a lot of little nuances to the story that I may have overlooked, so I am interested to see what other readers pick up on that I missed.

I received a copy of First You Try Everything to review as part of a TLC Book Tour.  For more reviews, check out the full list.  Thanks to TLC for the opportunity to read this book!