Earlier this year, I decided to catch up on my reading and reviewing the ARCs that I had received from Netgalley courtesy of publishers who allow bloggers like myself the opportunity to preview new books before their publication date. I had a list of 15 downloads at the beginning of the year and as I started reading and submitting them and my feedback ratio improved, I started becoming more attractive to publishers who decided that Yes, they would allow me to start reading their books again, now that my reviews were finally emerging from the black hole that was once my Netgalley queue. I’d promised myself not to request anything new until I was finished with my past-due list but naturally when I was done, I rewarded myself by requesting new titles. The first ARC that I allowed myself to download after my self-imposed ban, was Me For You by Lolly Winston, which was released on March 12, 2019.
Me For You is a story about how grief can weigh you down, inhabit your life and space like a real entity demanding to be acknowledged but it is also contains a message of hope by exploring how different characters process their loss and re-engage after the life changing events.
The main character is fifty-something year old Rudolph (Rudy) Knowles, whose wife Bethany has a fatal heart attack in their bed while he chats with her, unaware that she is forever gone. We also get to know his adult daughter Cecilia (CeCe) who assumes the role of caring for her widowed father even as her own marriage is falling apart and she balances her feelings of losing her mother. The contrasting face of grief is worn by Sasha, Rudy’s coworker with whom he had developed a platonic friendship while his wife was still alive, but now who he can help support through the end of her dismal marriage and the tragic death of her child.
Considering that I read an advanced reader copy, I wasn’t surprised that there were inconsistencies in the names – the book synopsis initially introduced Bella who seemed to have been renamed Sasha – and at least one complication that was promised in the synopsis didn’t seem like it was ever really considered in the narrative itself. However, this isn’t a major issue for me since I expect that the published book will be edited to correct those flubs.
I enjoyed the simplicity of these relatable characters and the sweetness they seemed anxious to communicate to each other, even in the face of their own private hells. It was refreshing to read what felt like real people who were hopeful even after they had endured bad things, and who didn’t want to wallow in self pity but wanted to reach out and help others. I saw this displayed in the way Rudy was kind to strangers as well as friends – consoling a frazzled mother who interrupted his piano playing gig, offering a snack to the police officer who brought bad news, even being humane when Sasha’s ex showed up drunk. It appeared again in the descriptions of how Sasha tackled her job, not using her pain as a crutch but wanting to create a warm environment even for the people who might have precipitated her challenges. The author offered heartwarming glimpses into what humanity should be, even when tested.
However, there were places where the novel felt like it lacked a bit of structure. I appreciated the running, sweet narrative but felt like it missed a bit of a climax, and not even the bad-guy showing up was sufficiently surprising or scary. A few chapters were written from alternate perspectives and I think the ones that follow Sasha were important to show who she was aside from being Rudy’s new love interest. It felt important to see her as a complex character, someone who had braved the challenges of immigration and an unsatisfying marriage and the loss of a child and still hadn’t lost her luster. Other chapters written from Bethany’s perspective felt a little unfinished, which I think reflected the suddenness of her death and that felt like a clever way to involve the reader in what it felt like to miss her.
Me For You is the kind of book I’d recommend to someone as a feel-good read which might seem strange since it’s about the loss of a life partner, but it’s the kind of story that addresses a difficult situation and then offers hope in what comes after the grief has settled.
- Title: Me For You
- Author: Lolly Winston
- Pages: 320
- Publisher: Touchstone at Simon & Schuster
- Publication Date: March 12, 2019
I received a free electronic galley copy of this novel in order to complete this review but I was not otherwise compensated for evaluating this product. My intent is always to provide as honest and complete an assessment as I can. Thanks to Netgalley and Touchstone at Simon & Schuster for proving the opportunity to take an early look at this new release.