By: Karen White
Published Year: 2017
Publisher: Berkley Books
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I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion.
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren't helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.
Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.
Sugar's stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother's seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather's world.
In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee's house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women....
This cover is so cute! It looks like a book I would pick up for a summer beach/pool read. The summary also sounded cute and I knew I had to read this one. I’m a bit of a sucker for southern stories.
What I thought
I’m a bit torn on my thoughts for this one!
The story starts with Merilee Dunlap divorcing her husband after he cheated on her. She and their two children move into a small cabin on the property of Sugar Prescott, a 93 year old woman. Sugar’s family pretty much owned the entire town of Sweet Apple Georgia at one point in time, but over the years her brothers sold of acre by acre. Both women have difficult pasts with secrets that they hold close, yet this is exactly what brings them together.
I don’t know what’s been going on, but lately every book I read has a twist super late in the book that completely changes the type of book I thought I was reading. Because of that, I think my reaction to this book might have been a bit more negative than if I had read this after a few different types of books.
The first 75% of the book is a nice, light story of a recently divorced woman trying to find her way, and an elderly woman finding herself again. In amongst that, there is also an anonymous blogger who is commenting on the behaviors of the community. After the divorce, Merilee enrolled her children at a new school and because of that, begins to make new friends with some of the parents. Of course, there is one Queen Bee of the mother’s and that is Heather. I did have issues with this storyline. It was very obvious that while Heather seemed so nice, it was going to come and bite Merilee in the butt. Because of that, I felt anxious the entire time I was reading and that was not enjoyable.
I also really liked Sugar, Wade, and Merilee’s children. Really, the only characters I didn’t like were the ones we weren’t supposed to. Sugar’s own story that slowly unfurled as the book went on was interesting. I liked getting to know what made Sugar who she was and how her problems were similar to ones that Merilee dealt with.
At about the three quarter mark, the tone of this novel totally changes. I thought that I had picked up a book that was a contemporary novel or a “women’s fiction” but it then changed to a thriller. I had a bit of whiplash from the change that the book made. This is the part that makes me torn. While I enjoyed both parts of the story, they just didn’t make much sense together. It was a drastic change and I’m still recovering from it.
One final thing I liked about this book was the overall message that it gave. The entire novel touched on the subject of bullying in different ways. I liked that while there was an overarching theme with a positive message, it didn’t feel preachy or like it was shoved down my throat.
By: Karen White