Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: Plan Bea

One of my least favourite things is having to say I didn't love a book so when I say that Plan Bea was a book I expected to like (if not love) and didn't, know it's as hard for me to write as it is for the author to read. Hilary Grossman's second novel isn't bad, don't get me wrong. I did find enjoyment in some parts but I just didn't connect with it in the way I should have.

Here's the synopsis:
Could falling in love allow a cold, stubborn, and selfish women to open her heart back up to her family?
Beatrice Buchanan has spent more years than she can remember distancing herself from everyone close to her. She has no relationship with her grandchildren and the only time she speaks to her daughter is during her weekly fifteen-minute commute to the nail salon. When Bea meets Walter on a cruise she realizes there may be more to life than designer clothes and impressing the ladies at her country club.
We live our entire lives thinking we know those closest to us. But do we ever really?
On the outside, Annabel O’Conner has it all – the perfect husband, two adorable children, and an amazing job. The only thing missing is her mother’s love. When Bea begs her daughter to help plan her wedding, Annabel reluctantly agrees. Little does she know the impact of her decision or the surprise that is in store for her!
This emotional and honest women’s contemporary fiction novel will tug at your heartstrings and the twist ending will shock you.
The core of the story was an intriguing and gripping one. My heart hurt for both Anna and Bea. I couldn't imagine having such a strained relationship with my mom. I loved seeing them attempt to repair their relationship and Anna encourage a relationship between her mom and her children.

It takes awhile to learn exactly why Anna and Bea's relationship is so awful and almost non-existent. I can't say why, since that's part of the plot twist, but I will say that I had it figured out. And because of this, I found myself reorganizing the storyline to make it "better" (in my opinion, of course). The revelations could have been in a different order and still would have packed a punch. Plus, I wouldn't have been waiting and waiting for the big reveal to occur. It was so anticlimactic for me. That was a big flow issue for me but there were other ones as well. The way Anna and Bea revealed information to each other was so stilted, even allowing for their strained relationship. There was also a piece of info Bea gave Anna that I didn't see how she could know. There were some recalling of conversations that were so awkward. For example, after a dinner out with the whole family (which we don't get to read about), Anna and her husband are getting ready for bed and are talking about how funny their daughter was that evening. I assume most parents would laugh and move on but they quote, verbatim we're to assume, exactly what she said. It just didn't feel natural to me.

Never being in Anna's situation myself (though I have a non-existant relationship with my dad so I can kind of see where she'd be coming from), I can't say for certain what I would do in her place. But that shouldn't matter...I should be able to understand why a character is acting the way she is (this is women's fiction, not a thriller, you know?) and I just didn't get why Anna was so hellbent on catering to her mother's every request when Bea had been so so horrible to her. It just didn't quite make sense to me.

Like I said, I wanted Plan Bea to be a winner for me. I know so many other chick lit and women's fiction fans adore Hilary Grossman's books but it doesn't seem to be in the cards for me. Would I tell you not to read it? No, of course not. Read it if the story speaks to you! But maybe it doesn't need to be tops on your TBR list.

*A copy of this novel was provided in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

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