Review: The Closest Thing to OK by Cristy Rey

Blurb:

At eighteen years-old, Sam DeCastro moved to Tallahassee to lend her recently widowed brother a hand in caring for his two small children. Five years later, Sam is their sole caregiver, her troubled brother increasingly fades from their family picture. Not a mother to the children that she raises. Not a wife to the brother that she’s shackled to. Not a daughter to the parents that hardly loved her as a kid. Not a cookie-cutter example of the perky PTA parent—not with her tattoos and penchant for heavy music, twenty-three year-old Sam has practically no social life, no college degree, and no room for love in her life.

Jake Turner is the counselor at Canopy Hopes where Sam’s niece and nephew attend school. Jake had Sam once, and then he lost her. Six months later, when they reunite for a parent-teacher conference, sparks reignite. With Jake back in the picture, Sam must decide what she wants for her own life: Stay trapped in a platonic marriage with an absent husband of a brother? Strike out on her own, leave the kids behind, and never look back?

Jake isn’t sure that Sam sees a happy medium, but he wants her to. He knows that, if she doesn’t, there won’t be any room for him in her life.

Review:

One of the things I like about Rey, is the depth of emotion she captures in her work. It is one thing to tell the reader what a characters is feeling, another to show it but Rey goes one step further and makes the reader FEEL it. She manages to rip your heart out and twist your guts in knots with each powerful, emotionally-charged scene. In OK, the anger, resentment, and despair Sam feels is palpable throughout the novel as is Jake’s devotion and emotional upheaval.

I was given an ARC of this one and I don’t know if the problems I found made their way into the published version or not but here is what I found that effected my rating. In the beginning, some of the paragraphs were confusing and problematic. I’ll be honest and tell you it looked like editing issues. Some sentences seemed to have been edited but the original words were still there as well so the sentence had two beginnings or confusing endings. There were also issues with some of the paragraphs especially in the beginning of the book. On a few of them, I don’t know if the paragraphs were poorly structured or if it was a matter of incorrect pronoun usage. Others, I believe were just poorly edited. The only reason I mention these types of issues is because they were noticeable and interrupted the flow of the story.

I did like the characters and enjoyed being sucked into the emotional roller-coaster of their world even if Sam and Jake’s tale wasn’t a happy-go-lucky love story. The dichotomy of Sam’s emotions, i.e. determination to be there for the kids vs her desire to escape, is as real as it gets. Anyone who has had to grow up too fast or take on responsibilities before their ready, can relate to these emotions. But despite the difficult path her life has taken and her desire to be free from the unfair burdens, she can’t imagine her life being any different. While poor Jake knows what he wants and what is possible but remains stuck between pursuing what he wants and letting Sam have what she believes is best.

I also love the title. I mention this because it relates so well to the theme of the book. The character aren’t striving for the perfect life, they are simply struggling to reach the point where they are OK with their lot in life. So, it is easy to see the brilliance in the title.

Overall, I say this book is a 4 star read because the realistic portrayal of the difficulties of non-traditional relationships (you know the kind that doesn’t just effect the two lovers) definitely outshines the editing issues.

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