I belong to a few book groups on Facebook. In one of those groups, one author’s name keeps coming up as a favorite of the members: Colleen Hoover. I was not familiar at all with her work but decided to give her a try.
Reminders of Him is a book about making mistakes and the path to forgiveness. It’s a pretty good read, but my main distraction was that it seemed an awful lot like Night Road by Kristin Hannah.
Kenna Rowan was just paroled from prison for the manslaughter death of her boyfriend, Scotty. Now, she wants to meet the daughter they had together whom she gave birth to in prison and has never really seen. The only problem is while in prison her parental rights were terminated and she was adopted by Scotty’s parents. They blame her for their son’s death and Kenna blames herself as well. Kenna was very willing to have them raise her daughter, Diem, while she was in prison since she loved the son they raised so much. Still, she’d like to be at least a part of her life in some way.
The little bit of money she saved while being in a halfway house prior to her release gets her to their town and an apartment in a rather dilapidated building. From there, she’s not sure what to do. She toys with the idea of just showing up at their home but is a bit nervous.
Ledger is a former professional football player who has come back to his hometown to live. He runs a bar and restaurant and he seems to have a great desire to help people. One of the people working for him is a man he injured playing football. One night a woman walks in and sits down. He’s immediately taken by her and watches her all night. She orders a glass of wine and stares at it. He knows the sign of someone who is thinking about falling off the wagon and takes the glass away. Only, that wasn’t her intention.
Kenna uses moments like that to give herself strength. She feels powerful when she can walk away from the temptation. Ledger removing the glass took away that power, and now she’s flustered. She leaves the bar, and Ledger starts to chase after her. It’s only when she hears his name that she realizes that he was Scotty’s best friend whom she never had the opportunity to meet. He’s also taken on a parenting role with Diem since his parents’ home is across the street from Scotty’s parents.
If you’re thinking you know where this goes, I pretty much figured it out too. Not only had I read that very similar book, but it’s going to have a happy ending. I really doubted all the while I was reading that the author would leave a fractured, grieving family still in place at the end. The path to that happy ending is predictable. I can’t say there was much that surprised me here either.
Being adopted, I’m kind of sensitive to books about children who are removed from their parents for one reason or another. This is another case where it’s treated like nothing that happened before this moment will matter in Diem’s life. I’m not saying there was an alternative with Kenna in prison, but that breaking of the maternal bond often has consequences we don’t understand. Yes, Diem had to go live with her grandparents and be adopted by them for the security that represents. However, many times there are identity issues from that separation that play out in a child’s development and behavior. We’re supposed to believe that, at 4 years old, she’s never questioned where her father or mother is.
From reading this, I’d say Colleen Hoover is a lot like Kristin Hannah or Jodi Picoult, only they are better authors, in my opinion. This was one of her more recent offerings, so it’s not like I can say that it’s the first book and it’ll get better. The story was too predictable and too rushed for a few things to convince me it was real and play on my emotions, and I’m one of the sappiest people out there. It felt like things were deliberately being tossed out there to try and get the reader emotionally invested, but it all left me feeling flat.