The Art of Letting Go by Anna Bloom
Soul Mate Publishing, 2013
NA Romance Contemporary
Source: Received an e-ARC from author via blog tour.
One year. One woman. One Diary. One question: can you ever stop history from repeating itself and if you could what would you do to stop it?I haven't really read much NA, generally not being much interested in their plot lines but something about the British setting at uni really spoke to me. And it sounded really cute and funny so I was excited to be a part of this tour. Having now read this book, I have to separate my feelings into two categories: the one that really loved the book and the other that conflicts with me as a person and reader. We'll start with the latter to explain why *I* don't unreservedly love the book.
When Lilah McCannon realises at the age of twenty-five that history is going to repeat itself and she is going to become her mother—bored, drunk and wearing a twinset—there is only one thing to do: take drastic action.
Turning her back on her old life, Lilah’s plan is to enrol at university, get a degree and prove she is a grown-up.
As plans go, it is a good one. There are rules to follow: no alcohol, no cigarettes, no boys and no going home. But when Lilah meets the lead singer of a local band and finds herself unexpectedly falling in love, she realises her rules are not going to be the only things hard to keep.
With the academic year slipping by too quickly, Lilah faces a barrage of new challenges: will she ever make it up the Library stairs without having a heart attack? Can she handle a day on campus without drinking vodka? Will she ever manage to read a history book without falling asleep? And most importantly, can she become the grown-up that she desperately wants to be.
With her head and her heart pulling her in different directions can Lilah learn the hardest lesson that her first year of university has to teach her: The Art of Letting Go?
Did you notice how this book is set in England? Are you very familiar with some of the cultural differences between Brits and Americans? For example, attitudes toward alcohol? Personally I'm a teetotaler because I loathe the taste of alcohol, not because I have strong feelings about temperance. But man do these characters drink a lot! I feel like there was more drinking than studying in this book. My understanding in general is that Brits (and Europeans) have a more relaxed, less uptight attitude toward alcohol, which would explain why it's treated so casually when I was cringing. Also the two main characters smoke, something I find absolutely disgusting (I consider myself very lucky to live in a state that no longer allows cigarette smoking in restaurants as the smell makes me gag). My friend was in London this summer and said her husband, who is also very sensitive to secondhand smoke, hated being around so many smokers. So that's another cultural difference there that affected my reading of the book.
The other part I didn't like so much is just my preference for comedy of which there is a lot but there is also a lot of back and forth on Lilah's part. I just wanted her to pull it together and get with hot musician Ben. Instead she angsts so much and I just wanted to jump in the book and boss her around (gosh I'm bossy!) When they were together, the book just sizzled. So I'm not really a reader who's good at the tension between the main couple-I just want them together. But I know a lot of readers love that and you'll get some good moments here.
Something that left me pleasantly surprised was the romance, in fact. I anticipated some seriously steamy scenes as that is my understanding of what NA promises but it's actually pretty tame. There's off the charts chemistry but it's not as graphic as I expected, which I think is all to the good. The couple spend rather a lot of time talking and getting to know each other as they are in each other's lives through the whole year of uni.
As for the characters...Lilah was very brave. She starts the book at a lucrative but unfulfilling job, giving it up to return to uni much to her father's dismay. By making that decision, she shakes up her whole family, forging new relationships with her parents and twin Tristan, making new friendships, pursuing a course in history, and of course meeting musician Ben who believes so strongly in the pair. I also love that he can cook and his sensitivity to his family but his most attractive quality is really his belief in their relationship-he thinks they can go the distance. Lilah's most relatable quality, to me, was her fondness for Taylor Swift songs-I'll confess sometimes Taylor is the soundtrack to my life though I don't have near the love life of either woman.
The plot has a lot going on as we cover an up and down year in the life of Lilah told through journal entries. I found it compulsively readable and sped through it in the course of just one day. I feel like it's a bit like Bridget Jones' Diary though I never read all of that book-something about the British humor and romantic adventures.
Overall: A very British story about love, finding yourself, and learning to let go-super fun and readable; especially recommended for New Adult fans and those who don't necessarily want a steamy story.
And now as part of the tour, there's a giveaway opportunity-I hope you'll enter!
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Anna Bloom is a contemporary romance writer who writes about life as it happens. Combining a busy schedule of looking after two small children whilst working in a local school and completing The Uni Files series she also spends a lot of time imagining kissing hot guys – all in the name of her art.