This book, which I ordered from Paperbackswap.com last summer, has been sitting on my bookshelf for…well for a year. I have picked it up, read the back, and put it back down several times in that year, but the plot wasn’t what I was looking for at the time. Until last week, when suddenly I read it (again) and decided to give it a shot. My hesitation proved to be well-founded, but not because the book was bad. It just wasn’t the most uplifting book, which is not something I would have wanted to read during the teaching months of the year.
The Hunt sisters, Maddie and Olivia, are about nine years apart in age. Maddie lives a few miles from their parents in small town USA while Olivia is a big-time Hollywood movie producer. They aren’t enemies, but also aren’t best friends, and still harbor some angst from their formative years. Still, when Maddie is told she has what essentially amounts to terminal cancer, Olivia is there in a heartbeat, through the good and the bad, all while trying to get a movie version of Don Quixote funded and filmed.
The story is told entirely from Olivia’s point of view, through letters that she writes to various people in her life – her high school best friend, her on/off boyfriend, her mom, her dad, movie executive, Robin Williams (yes,that one), doctors, and other minor characters. At first, this style turned me off, and I thought it was going to be a little gimmicky, but I ended up liking it. You get to see the many facets of Olivia and how her tone and thoughts change depending on who she is writing to at the time. Sarcasm reigns when she is writing to the movie execs, her vulnerability comes out in letters to her sister, her mom brings out her defenses, and her best friend gets a mixture of all these things, depending on what is going on in her life.
Even though the book was somewhat predictable, it was still a page turner, and I suspect this was because it was written in letters. For example, an emotionally draining letter would be followed by a short, scathing, bitter letter. So even though the issues were heavy, the plot never felt that way.
Like I said, I don’t normally read this kind of book (I steer clear of any books described with words like “heartwarming”, “tear-jerker”, and/or “”poignant”), but after about 100 pages, it was hard to put down.