I love to read just about anything, as long as it's fiction. I read for me - that means I read what I want, when I want. My reviews tend to mostly be based on how I'm able to personally connect with the story/characters. They are not intended to influence someone to read, or not read, a particular book. I always encourage people to take a chance and make up your own mind.
Oh, and I love chocolate.
OK, so let me start by saying that somehow I completely missed that this was a memoir. On Amazon, it's listed in FICTION. Also, the book cover of the version I read does not say memoir. I loaned out this book on my Kindle because I thought it would be a light, funny, sweet romance novel.
When I was around the 30% mark, I thought to myself, "It's like the author just purged a bunch of facts from her own life and stuck them in this story." Then I went and searched a little deeper, looked further at some of the reviews, and discovered it was a memoir.
Well, I guess that should be a score for the author, because it clearly read as a memoir. However, I take that point back for not categorizing it appropriately - or at least making it better known in the synopsis.
I don't typically like memoirs, so maybe that was my primary issue with this book. In general, there were just too many random facts that didn't need to be in there. From the story about returning a lost wallet, to petting the kitten next door, to the soup in the blender... none of it was critical to the story. See - I didn't even need to use the 'spoiler' feature here because knowing these details will not ruin anything for you!
Oh, the '!' reminded me that there are a lot of them in this book! I mean really, the people in her life must be super excited all the time! I don't mean for this to come off as critical as it probably sounds, so I'm sorry if it does. I'm sure it's just a pet peeve of mine.
And the odd non-use of contractions. I am not kidding. In dialogue, most people use contractions. But in this book, sometimes they did, sometimes they did not. Sometimes they used a mixture of both in one sentence. It made the characters seem a bit robotic for me. Or maybe English wasn't their first language? I suppose it's a good thing that a vast majority of the book is not dialogue (no I didn't base this on scientific data, so if I'm wrong then it is because it just felt that way).
Oh, wait, the fact that most of it was not dialogue is one of the other issues I had with this book. It was as if the author was just purging random memories and plugging them into the plot. Telling us things that had happened. Even the ending. Cutting it off, just to 'tell' it to the mother the next day - well, that means it was told it to me (the reader) as well. I get that it was probably for suspense, but I would have rather been in that moment and allowed to feel the emotions of the event as it was occurring.
I was also often confused in the beginning chapters of the book as to what time frame the story was in. Chapter 1 starts in 2003 (New Year's Eve). The next starts in July 2001, however in the 2nd paragraph we are taken back to the summer before... and a few pages later back again to July 2001. Then chapter 5 starts in 2004 (New Year's Day), but by the second paragraph we are back in 2001... I think... and we never go back to 2004 - so... why not just sub-title it 2001? I often had to go back to the start of the chapter to remind myself where in their relationship I was supposed to be.
Unfortunately, I'm type of reader who finishes just about every book I start. I did however consider giving this one up a few times. Instead, I kept reading but skipped past many paragraphs at a time.
I will say that the author made it very clear that she and Marc loved each other. Even though Marc was a commitment-phobe, I never hated him. I actually felt bad for him most of the time when friends and family were picking on him about marriage. I don't know Hilary, and I'm sure in person she is very nice. However, the way she portrayed herself in the book (at least for me) was very immature and selfish at times. I loved that she listened to her heart. I love that she trusted Marc and stood by him. However, I didn't like the fact that she didn't stick up for him in those moments when friends and family were pushing him. It almost seemed she was encouraging them, and at the very least playing along. However, she would comment that she didn't want to 'push' him herself, for fear of losing him. Yet... it was OK for others to push and taunt him, possibly making him want to walk away? If she was accepting the relationship as it was - and she made it clear he told her from the beginning this was how it was going to go - then she should have stuck up for him more (at least more than what was portrayed in the book).
My husband and I dated for 4 years before getting married. I get it. He is also a commitment-phobe - from marriage to what kind of camera to buy. I've been there when friends and family would pointedly ask him what was taking so long and when would we get married. I was curious too (and frustrated), but instead of pushing him along with them, I responded with humor in defense of him. I'd say something like, "Well, I'm just holding out for a bigger ring. Don't you know the size of the ring goes up for every year you date?" Then I would give him a reassuring hug or squeeze on the arm/shoulder to let him know I was sorry he was being put on the spot. Obviously it worked out for Hilary and Marc, so no harm done. And maybe it's just that these are the moments picked for the book because they are 'funny' and there are some wonderful examples of her telling everyone to just shove it in real life, but I didn't see it in the book.
Based on the ratings for this book, there are obviously many readers who love it. Maybe you will too. If I were rating their love story - 5 wonderful stars. I loved it and I hope they have a long and wonderful marriage. But I'm rating this as a book, and I just didn't connect. I really wish their love story would have been used as the plot for an actual fiction novel - that's what I was looking for after all.