Today I am reviewing a contemporary romance novella, A Reason to Stay by L. S. Murphy. More about the author:
L.S. Murphy lives in the Greater St. Louis area where she watches Cardinals baseball, reads every book she can find, and weaves tales for teens and adults. When not doing all of the above, she tends to The Bean (aka her daughter), her husband and a menagerie of pets.
She is a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the St. Louis Writer’s Guild.
Tag line: She had a reason to leave, now will she have a reason to stay?
Within minutes of arriving in her hometown after a six year absence, Julianna Markum runs into Pace Carter, the last person she expected to see. Pace was her best friend during high school, but she left town without telling him, knowingly breaking his heart. Now that she’s back to help care for her ailing aunt, Julianna wants to make things right with Pace. If she could only find the words to explain why she left and why she didn’t tell him goodbye.
The book cover is quite OK. That Victorian house has much importance in the story, so not surprised that it made it to the cover!. Just before beginning the story, there is one page with just “For Bean” written on it. I felt that to be sweet. Bean is the author’s daughter.
On to the story now. I kept a lot of expectations reading the summary. Like real high expectations. What reason could have made Julianna just take off for six years??. That too without telling her best friend?. What reason was good enough to break her best friend’s heart?. With all these questions in my mind, I started reading.
The beginning (the first 2 paragraphs) set the right mood. I felt excited in fact. Oh wow!. Julianna is back in her town, Hartfield. What awaited her now?. I read ahead eagerly. But alas!. In the upcoming paragraphs, she meets Pace (not a spoiler!. It’s already in the summary) and the meeting was NO WHERE near my expectation. There was no emotion whatsoever in that scene. I was quite stunned. Here was Julianna meeting her best friend after being gone for 6 years, apparently after breaking his heart too. What a big let down!
Anyways I continued reading. We are introduced to her cousin, Stacey, Aunt Helen and Stacey’s husband, Josh. The only person’s emotions that were true to the situation, throughout the book, was Aunt Helen’s. Rest of the people, including Julianna, kept showing intense emotion in situations where it was not necessary AT ALL and very light emotion (almost nil existence) in places where you would expect a lot. That really brought down the book, for me.
Throughout the book, the author keeps mentioning and reassuring us that nobody understood why Julianna left her Aunt’s house one fine day and decided not to even to call home (atleast to let everyone know she was safe somewhere) for three months after she took off. Also, when Julianna thinks about her past and her childhood spent with Pace, you will understand how close they both were. She even thinks at one point “Pace was my childhood”!!. Even though the dialogues were dull and the lack of emotion was driving me mad, I kept reading to find out why she left.
Finally the reason was revealed. I was like “That’s her reason??”. I didn’t find it believable at all. From Julianna’s point of view, maybe that was a good reason but to me, it was not a good reason AT ALL to leave without telling anyone, particularly to Pace, who is a real nice guy and didn’t deserve anything like that to be done to him. I couldn’t relate to Julianna at all. I didn’t feel what she felt. If an author cannot make the reader empathize with the character she created, well, I don’t really know what to say.
The ending was quite predictable but still was a beautiful and touching one. I should say, for this book, not only it’s an apt ending, it’s the only saving grace.
All in all, I give this book a 2/5 which by Goodreads standards means “it was OK”. If you would like to find out yourself, what her reason to leave was, I wouldn’t stop you from reading. I have noticed that some have even given 5/5 ratings. So it just might be me, but you guys know I review books honestly and this is exactly what I felt.
How I received my copy
I won a copy of this ebook from the Julie’s blog, Bookaroo-Ju, which by the way is a fantastic book blog. I *love* her book reviews!. She doesn’t retain back anything and let’s her excitement/emotions show in her posts. Do check out her blog and follow if you wish to.