Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Book Review: You Knew Me When

You Knew Me When, by Emily Liebert.

Katherine read the letter again. Not Luella. Not the woman who had loved her so purely and with every morsel of her being. It must be a mistake. It had to be a mistake. Unexpectedly, tears began tumbling down Katherine's cheeks, falling hard and fast and catching her off guard. And then she knew. She'd have to go home. After twelve years, she'd finally have to go home and face her past.

Only a four-hour drive, but still a lifetime away.

Katherine used to be called Kitty, and live in Manchester, Vermont, with her father. She had a best friend, Laney, and was dating Laney's brother, Grant; things were getting serious between them as well. Then she went off to NYU for college, and slowly became Katherine ... and the years passed and she never came home to Vermont for a visit, not even to see her dad.

Official synopsis:
You Knew Me When, by Emily LiebertBest friends forever… until life got in the way. Katherine Hill left her small New England hometown in pursuit of a dream. Now, twelve years later, she’s a high-powered cosmetics executive in Manhattan and a much glossier version of her former self, unrecognizable to her family and old friends. Not that she would know—she hasn’t been home in over a decade.

Laney Marten always swore she’d never get "stuck” in Manchester, Vermont. No, she was destined to live out her glamorous big-city dreams. Instead, she wound up a young wife and mother. That was when her best friend ran out.

When Katherine receives word of an inheritance from former neighbor Luella Hancock, she reluctantly returns home to the people and places she left behind. Hoping for a second chance, she’s met by an unforgiving Laney, her former best friend. And there’s someone else who’s moved on without her—someone she once loved.

Tethered to their shared inheritance of Luella’s sprawling Victorian mansion, Katherine and Laney are forced to address their long-standing grudges. Through this, they come to understand that while life has taken them in different directions, ultimately the bonds of friendship and sisterhood still bind them together. But are some wounds too old and deep to mend?
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I'd classify this book as "chick lit" although it has many layers to it too. The novel goes back and forth between present-day, when Katherine and Laney don't speak anymore, at first, to the past, when Katherine and her father moved to Manchester and she and Laney instantly became best friends. When Katherine went by Kitty, she was friends with Luella Hancock, an elderly lady who lived in the mansion located between Katherine and Laney's houses, and Luella always had them over to her house to swim. Now Luella has passed away, and she's left her house to both Katherine and Laney, with the stipulation that they must clean up the house and sell her belongings together; if they don't, neither of them sees a penny from the sale.

It was interesting how Kitty and Laney were best friends at one point in their lives, and present-day were estranged from each other. The book illustrates how this happens - the "master plan" was for them both to go to UVM for college, but then Luella encouraged Kitty to apply to NYU; Kitty was accepted and never had time to visit UVM between school and her job, even though she was dating Laney's brother. Things spiraled out of control from there, and Laney became pregnant at 22, so her future in Manchester was sealed at that point.

I liked that the author chose to go back and forth between the late '80s/early '90s and present-day, as the reader gets to learn exactly what caused the rift between the two women. However, I will say that although I liked the ending, it wrapped up a little too neatly for my taste - no spoilers here, but everyone gets what they want, for the most part, which I suppose is par for the course for some types of books. The characters are easy to relate to, though, and the story is a compelling one.

3.5 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

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