Set in an aptly named bar in a small Upstate New York town, the protagonist in Anna Bruno’s novel Ordinary Hazards slowly reveals more about her past and how she might start to heal from it. In this stunning debut, topics of loss, love, and living in the past all swirl around as readers step foot inside The Final Final: the last bar on the outskirts of a small town.
It is 5 pm and Emma has settled into her hometown bar for the evening, nine months after her divorce from Lucas, a man she met in this very room on a blind date orchestrated by the very locals who now surround her. As she observes their banter and reminisces, key facts about her history begin to emerge, and the past comes bearing down on her like a freight train. Why has Emma, a powerhouse in the business world, ended up here? What is she running away from? And what is she willing to give up in order to recapture the love she has lost? As she teeters on the edge of oblivion, becoming more booze-soaked by the hour, Emma’s night begins to spin out of control.
Bittersweet and evocative, Bruno’s novel will have you sucked into Emma’s memories and remind you that not everything is as it seems on the surface. The non-linear timeline was a bit confusing in the beginning, but eventually made the story so much deeper than it would’ve been if it was linear. It was easy to dip into the story and just continue reading about Emma’s past and how it all culminated into a single night at the bar.
The setting of The Final Final gives that comfort and nostalgia factor of living in a small town, but can also relate to Emma’s preoccupation with the past and things she can’t change. It also lends itself to being the perfect way to introduce all of the main characters in the story and how they all interconnect in some way to each other and Emma’s life.
This book displays all the hardships in life: death, grief, loss, longing, and indifference. All of these attributes fester in Emma and as she remembers each moment of her life that has brought her to the present, she realizes that life is about moving forward, not dwelling in the past.
Without giving too much away, this novel will stay with you for a long time after reading it and is a great choice for fiction-lovers everywhere. Ordinary Hazards is set to come out August 18th and is the perfect end-of-summer book to discuss with your friends or book club!
*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!