G. Bianco, 2019
Released in 2019 and praised for its wit and charm, Evvie Drake Starts Over has been claimed to be one of the best debut books of 2019. Linda Holmes’s beautiful novel shares the story of Evvie Drake, a recently widowed woman, and Dean Tenney, a recently retired baseball player and how their relationship helps them heal and move forward in life.
In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth "Evvie" Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn't correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy's childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the "yips": he can't throw straight anymore, and he can't figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button. When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie's house, the two make a deal: Dean won't ask about Evvie's late husband, and Evvie won't ask about Dean's baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they'll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they've broken, the plans they've changed, and the secrets they've kept. They'll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there's always a chance—right up until the last out.
Simply put: this is a beautiful story about a woman restarting her life (as the title suggests). Holmes’s storytelling style is wonderfully captivating and readers will be turning page after page to see what’s going to happen next. The narration is something you need to pay attention to since it moves the timeline along smoothly, albeit quickly.
The friendship between Andy and Evvie is something refreshing and beautiful. How two people can just be sources of stability for one another and never need anything more than friendship is a beautiful thing that isn't normally seen in romance, at least in my experience.
The way Evvie’s struggles and Dean’s problems are one in the same yet completely different makes the story so beautiful. You would think a woman dealing with her husband’s death and a baseball player dealing with his inability to pitch anymore is a weird thing to compare. But the fact of the matter is they both lost something that was integral to who they are as people and the public who think they know them are quick to judge and throw labels on them. Through their love, respect, and understanding for one another, Evvie and Dean both learn to move on and grieve their losses by starting anew with the people who care about them.
Overall, this is a heartfelt romance that also deals with tough issues and regrets. While this isn't your usual funny rom-com, it’s just as easy to fall in love with Evvie, Dean, and their story. I cannot wait to see what Holmes will write next and I sincerely hope this isn't the last time we see Evvie Drake.
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