Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins | Review + Giveaway

I think one cool thing about having been around the block or two with book blogging is seeing the progression of an author’s career and writing style. Kristan Higgins is one of those authors – going from contemporary romances to some more serious women’s fiction. And I say those two genres with ZERO hints of condescension because I love and respect both genres. Life And Other Inconveniences is probably the most serious book I’ve read from Higgins yet. And I think if you walk in expecting a light fun read, you’re going to probably find that isn’t what you’ll get with this book.

Life And Other Inconveniences follows Emma and Genevieve. Emma is a therapist in Chicago and a single mother to probably the most awesome teen girl – Riley. She lives there with her Pop who took Emma in when she was pregnant and Genevieve, her grandmother, threw her out of her home. Genevieve London is a wealthy designer of fancy purses and she lives in Connecticut. Genevieve’s health is on the decline and so, before she goes she wants to reunite with Emma as well as get to know Riley. And so, reluctantly, Emma returns home and allows Riley to get to know her.

The two women are very different people and butt heads a lot. However, as they will discover, there’s a steel core that makes them very similar. I will say, this story does not shy from depicting some tough moments – including a death during child birth, a young child finding their parent who died by suicide, and another young child who goes missing. There is a lot of trauma throughout this book. It was actually kind of hard to see. But at the same time, we see these people come out of the traumas scathed but also resolute. And well, for Emma, she has made a beautiful life for herself, even if she might be stretched financially.

On the whole, I found this book to be very good. It’s incredibly compelling. Life and Other Inconveniences is a book that I gobbled up mostly in one day. It doesn’t really have a lot of the humor I expect from Higgins, but well, maybe that’s a new direction? Regardless, I enjoyed what I read and would recommend it as long as you can handle the tough moments mentioned in the paragraph above.

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EXCERPT FROM LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES

When I called Genevieve back and told her we were coming—including Pop, who would be staying elsewhere—there’d been a long pause. “Thank you,” she finally said.

“On one condition, Genevieve,” I said. “You do not mention money or inheritance to Riley. Not a whisper, not a hint. I don’t want you dangling your bank accounts in front of my daughter and snatching them away if she uses the wrong fork.”

“By which I assume you’re referring to the fact that I didn’t fund your teenage folly.”

“Teenage folly? You mean your great-granddaughter? Yes. This summer isn’t about the money. It’s us giving you a chance to make amends, and you making me Hope’s guardian.”

“How very gracious you are, my dear,” she said, and I heard a slurp. Five o’clock somewhere.

But she agreed, and here we were.

My clients, the ones I saw in person, were fine with me leaving for two months. I’d TheraTalk with most of them; two were about done anyway, and said they’d call me if they needed me. I’d had to give up my office space, though; luckily, a classmate from my PhD program had sublet it. Once I got back, I’d have to find another space, but I’d deal with that later.

Pop had found himself a little apartment over an antiques shop on Water Street. I was unspeakably grateful that he’d be nearby. He’d always hated Genevieve, who had viewed my mother as insufficient wife material for her wretched son.

Then again, she had a point. My mother had taken her own life. Maybe Genevieve had sensed something, even back then. She was many things, but she wasn’t stupid.

We crossed the Connecticut River, then the Thames. “There’s the Coast Guard Academy, Pop,” I said, pointing. He was an Air Force man himself, but he nodded. We went through Mystic, and I remembered going to the aquarium with Jason on a date. Or a field trip, maybe, but we’d held hands. Kissed in the dim light of the myriad fish tanks, and it had felt like the most romantic thing in the world.

He knew we were coming, of course. He was excited, he’d said on the phone. Talked about being separated, wasn’t sure where things were headed there. The boys couldn’t wait to meet Riley in person, though they knew her from Skype and phone calls.

My heart leaped into overdrive when, just before we hit Rhode Island, Charles exited the highway and entered the land of stone walls and gracious houses, tall oaks and two-hundred-year-old farms. The woods and fields gave way to narrower streets, and we went over the bridge that led to the borough.

Welcome to Stoningham, the sign said.

I found that I was holding my grandfather’s thumb, same as I had when I was little, back before my mother died, when seeing my grandparents was the happiest thing ever. He gave my hand a squeeze.

“Oh, my gosh, this town is so cute!” Riley said.

And it was. The sky was Maxfield Parrish blue, the lights of the Colonials that lined the streets glowing in what seemed to be a welcome. People were out, walking their dogs. At the library green, some kids tossed a football. As we came onto Water Street, Riley exclaimed over the little shops and restaurants. “There’s a café, Mom! Hooray! Oh, and an ice cream place! Even better!”

I smiled, but my stomach cramped again. It felt like I had never left.

The town hadn’t changed much. Still adorable with its colorful buildings and crooked streets. I caught glimpses of Long Island Sound as we drove, smelled garlic and seafood. Would Genevieve have dinner for us? Would she hug me? I swore if she made Riley feel one iota of shame, we’d be out of Connecticut forever.

Charles turned onto Bleak Point Road, where the most expensive houses in town sat like grand old ladies, weathered and gracious. All had names, which Riley read aloud as we passed.

“Thrush Hill. Summerly. Wisteria Cottage. Cliff View. Pop, we have to name our house when we get back!”

“Name it what? Crabgrass?” Pop asked.

“That’s kind of perfect, actually,” I murmured, having gone to war many times with weeds in our small yard.

“Oh, Sheerwater! We’re here!”

The iron gates (yes, gates) opened, and we turned onto the crushed shell drive. Sheerwater had ten acres of land, the very tip of Bleak Point, and it looked like a park, with beautifully gnarled dogwood trees on either side of the driveway, their intertwined branches making a tunnel of white blossoms. Spring was late this year.

We rounded the gentle curve, and my hands were sweating now.

“Holy guacamole,” my daughter breathed. “It’s even prettier than the pictures!” In the rearview mirror, I saw Charles smile. Beside me, Pop stiffened. He’d never been here, of course.

There it was—my grandmother’s twenty-room cottage, pristine and gracious and lit up like the fires of hell.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

Comments

  1. Danielle Hammelef says

    I’m currently reading Fireborne and loving it.

  2. Dead Big Dawg

  3. Jillian Too says

    I’m reading The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

  4. I keep hearing about this book, and it seems most people have really enjoyed it! I recently started Throne of Glass, but I feel like I’ve read it before…

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?
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