Saturday, June 29, 2013

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Making It Last" by Ruthie Knox

SUMMARY from Goodreads:
A hotel bar. A sexy stranger. A night of passion. There’s a part of Amber Mazzara that wants those things, wants to have a moment — just one — where life isn’t a complicated tangle of house and husband and kids and careers. Then, after a long, exhausting “vacation” with her family, her husband surprises her with a gift: a few days on the beach . . . alone.

Only she won’t be alone long, because a handsome man just bought her a drink. He’s cool, he’s confident, and he wants to take Amber to bed and keep her there for days. Lucky for them both, he’s her husband. He’s only got a few days in Jamaica to make her wildest desires come true, but if he can pull it off, there’s reason to believe that this fantasy can last a lifetime.

Wow, I'm stunned. If you've spent any time on this blog, you know that I am a fan of Ruthie Knox's books.  She always embeds a kernel of authentic emotion in her books whether it is a struggle with alienation, trust, self-esteem, or kinship.  But she outdid herself with this book.  Making It Last is the follow up story to Amber and Tony's story started in How to Misbehave and book 4 in the Camelot series.  It takes place 14 years after the first book - We enter the story after 10 years of marriage, three kids, a troubled business, and Amber adrift without an anchor.  I cried.  I cried and I cried in this book.  From the moment we see Amber in the lobby of the resort hotel helping her little boy overcome his vomiting, I felt it in my gut.  After ten years of cleaning up vomit, changing diapers, cleaning house and cooking dinner and trying to connect to her husband after his 80 hour work week, Amber can no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel. The saddest part is when one loses hope:  "You couldn't believe that there was enough fuel in the world, enough hope, enough love to spare."  I remember that feeling when my child was younger and there was always so much to do and I could never seem to catch up.  It felt like there was nothing to look forward to. This part made my heart clench and I took a sharp intake of breath.

Tony, with the help of Amber's mother and aunt, arranges for Amber to stay for a few days at the hotel while everyone else goes home.  He thinks he's giving her time to rest and relax.  But then knowing that things are not right at home, he begins to worry that she is getting to break from the marriage and so he returns to win her back. Over time and without an malicious intent, they stop giving to one another, holding back just a little bit at a time and then soon there is a chasm of loneliness even when they are in their own company. One of the best parts of this story is Tony's courage.  It takes him a bit to figure out what's wrong, but instead of running from it, he faces it head on. 

What strikes me is how important it is to have purpose in life - to know that you have a unique and important contribution to the world that encompasses who you are in your family AND outside of it. In his company, Tony gets to live his dream, and despite the downturn he still gets to make his mark inside and outside his family.  Amber, though she would never give up her role as mother, needs feedback and a reaction that says she is making her mark.  She needs signposts and boundaries in her life that give her permission to stop and switch gears.   

There are many poignant and important moments in this book. This is a story about rebuilding, reshaping, reforming a marriage in a real, non-fairytale manner, acknowledging the hard work and sacrifice it takes and then having the courage to go forth.   

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept for the ARC.  

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