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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

The Life You Live

In which our heroine realized she doesn't really want to take a walk in the woods

Four Weddings and Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Stars: 4.5

Ratings PG 

Perfect if you like:

Grumpy Sunshine

Somewhat mistaken identities

The best group of girlfriends

Great humor mixed in with serious topics

Hallmark movies and pub quizzes 

Emily Henry and Kerry Winfrey

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

This book, ahh it was just what I needed after a bit of reading slump. Well not a slump exactly, I was just feeling like it was hard for me to fall in love with fictional characters lately. But then along comes Ellie Palmer and I was laughing and smiling and sighing. This is the best kind of fiction - when you are fully immersed in the lives of the characters on the page and you wish you could be part of their quiz group. The storytelling was slyly funny (my favorite) and sweetly touching (also my favorite). This is Ellie Palmer’s debut but I am sure this is going to be on all the Summer Book Lists (it comes out in August). It has that same feel as an Emily Henry novel, the romance is central to the story, but there is depth and true growth for the characters. You will definitely want to put this one on your TBR. 

The book opens with Alison at the funeral of her ex-boyfriend. Sam died in a car accident and he never got around to mentioning to everyone that he and Alison had broken up a few months prior. Instead his bereaved family think they are still together. And somehow Alison gets roped into cleaning out Sam’s condo with his best friend, the grumpiest carpenter around, Adam Berg. For the next four weekends they will be going through Sam’s stuff and do small projects so that the condo can be sold in a month. And during that time these two will learn a lot about themselves and manage to fall in love.

There is a bit of a twist here, Alison is not just some thirty something trying to figure out her life and feeling a bit adrift. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years before the story starts and Alison and her sister are tested for the BRCA 1 gene, the genetic carrier for the disease. Alison tested positive and had a preventative mastectomy. After feeling like she has cheated death by greatly reducing her chances of getting cancer, she feels like she must “live her best life.” Which is what attracted her to Sam and his embrace of all things outdoorsy and adventurous. But Alison struggles with trying to make herself be something she isn’t because of the guilt she feels. There are plenty of romances where people suffer from survivor's guilt but experiencing it through Alison allows the reader to begin to understand how hard it must be to know that your body can betray you in so many different organs while you struggle to figure out how much to let this knowledge determine how you view the life you live. 

Seriously, I couldn’t read this book fast enough but I DIDN'T WANT IT TO END. I wanted more Alison and Adam, more Chelsea and Mara, even more Patrick and Russell. I want all their stories now!


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