Leaving’s Not the Only Way to Go by Kay Acker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a very pleasant surprise. Ms Acker’s novel is an impressive debut. Well written, engaging characters that feel real and a perfectly paced build up of the romance.
After the death of her father, Lauren is at an impasse both with her work and her personal life. Cue a disastrous first meeting with Georgia, also dealing with the death of her best friend/co-parent, and then a follow on meeting at a local grief support group and you’ve got enough baggage to go on a two week trip. Despite the rocky start, the two women form a a relationship, thanks in part to Georgia’s daughter, Hannah (love that kid ) that seems to be what both of them need.
I particularly liked the choices Ms Acker made with the portrayal of Lauren and Georgia. Lauren’s seeming lack of ambition is a direct result of her unresolved feelings around the rather ambivalent relationship with her father and you can sympathize with her seeming paralysis to make changes and the frustration of when she does begin to focus more on her career it is completely ignored by her boss. Georgia’s autism was deftly portrayed – she is so self-aware of the triggers and reactions but at times is unable to stop them. The struggle she had with managing both her and her daughter’s autism with seemingly well intentioned friends or family not quite understanding the impact of their actions and words was a bit of an eye opener. Both women are portrayed with a wonderful realism that makes you connect with them and root for relationship.
From a romance perspective, this is a slow burn and the time Ms Acker takes building the friendship helps build the reader’s engagement with the characters so that when the relationship turns to more than friends, its a natural and believable progression and just feels right. This is sweet and at times heartbreaking, but at it’s core it is a wonderful portrayal of two women, each at a crossroads, who find that they are better together than apart.
This is a refreshingly romance that hits all the right buttons with engaging characters who are original and well developed and a nice build up of the romance.
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