A few months ago, I had the opportunity to listen to best-selling author, Debbie Macomber, speak at my library, as well as talk to her in person as she signed my copy of her book, If Not for You. She is as lovely a person as she appears in interviews.
Her speech was uplifting for an author just starting out, and humorous, as well. She talked about how she got into writing, and how her faith kept her strong when life dealt her some blows. Her writing reflects her positive outlook, as well as her relationship with God.
Beth has escaped her controlling mother, Ellie, in Chicago by taking a teaching job across the country, in Portland, Oregon, near her artist aunt, Sunshine. This move upsets Beth’s mother, not only because she can no longer tell Beth how to live her life, but because her daughter has chosen to live near Sunshine. Sunshine and Ellie had a falling out years ago. The reason is told to the reader in pieces, and makes for an intriguing subplot.
The date is a disaster, and they can’t wait to get out of each other’s company. The scene where they crowd through the exit door is laughable. But, as fate would have it, Beth gets in a serious car accident, and Sam is a witness. It is to him she clings before she passes out, and he is moved by her blind trust in his words that she will be okay.
Great beginning, isn’t it? The rest of the story unfolds like a delicate flower, dropping petals of information in a gentle way. If you’re looking for action, and explosive dialogue, or hot, dirty sex, you won’t find it here. What you will find, is complex, loveable characters who are not perfect. They are like real people; flawed, yet beautiful in their own ways.
Sam and Beth’s romance evolves slowly. Their kisses are described like poetry. They never have sex, which may or may not be believable with the character of Sam. But the story doesn’t suffer because of it. The subplot of Ellie and Sunshine’s falling out, is also interesting, but not necessary to the book. It did give the reader insight into how and why Beth acts as she does with Sam toward the end of the book.
All in all, I gave If Not for You four stars. I did so because it wrapped up rather quickly. A little too quickly. The whole book moved at a real-life pace, and then, wham, it finished up. Not very realistic to the rest of the story. Also, though it was a dear, feel-good book, it bogged down some in the middle. I found myself choosing to do other things than pick it up and read, because it lacked oomph. I’m glad I did, though, because it was a lovely read that made me believe something like it could happen in real life.
You won’t regret reading If Not for You, and you’ll remember the characters long after you finish their story.