Coming Up for Air

Coming Up for Air
by Patti Callahan Henry
Published 2011 by St. Martin’s Press
272 pages. ARC.
Rating: 5/5

On the coast of Alabama, there is a house cloaked in mystery, a place that reveals the truth and changes lives…Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband – between her reality and the woman she wants to be – she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life.But everything changes after her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie’s world turns upside down when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at her mother’s funeral and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death. He wants answers to questions that Ellie’s not sure she can face, until, in the painful midst of going through her mother’s things, she discovers a hidden diary – and a window onto stories buried long ago. As Ellie and Hutch start speaking for the first time in years, Ellie’s closed heart slowly begins to open. Fighting their feelings, they set out together to dig into Lillian’s history. Using both the diary and a trip to the Summer House, a mysterious and seductive bayside home, they gamble that they can work together and not fall in love again. But in piecing together a decades-old unrequited-love story, they just might uncover the secrets in their own hearts…

This is one of those times where I feel like I’m at a loss for words. How do you explain something so emotionally intense. I’ll start by simply saying you should read this book. It’s just… really good. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking and touching all at the same time. It’s the first book I’ve read by Patti, but it most certainly isn’t the last. I’ve already be reading the synopses of her other books, trying to decide which one I want to read first.

Ellie is one of those characters you can’t help but love immediately. She’s so easy to relate to, which I think is a little unusual for me since I’m twenty-three and she’s forty-eight. She just has such a young spirit. I can also relate to her relationship with her husband. Also a little strange since I’m so young. Still, I’ve been in the kind of relationship where the other person feels they have to control everything in whatever way they can: guilt, anger, sweetness. It’s definitely not the way you want to live the rest of your life, and I can’t imagine how Ellie put up with it for twenty years. Then Hutch shows up, and I immediately fall in love.

Hutch. What a great name. It just sounds like it belongs in a book. It fits the character so well too. He’s so tender. That’s the vibe I got. The easy way Ellie and Hutch are around each other is exactly the kind of thing I think everyone is looking for in love. It’s like they orbit around one another. Talking and touching just comes naturally to them. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they were in a serious relationship in college. I think (and forgive my romanticism) there are people who just have that kind of connection, a sort of rightness when they’re together.

There’s nothing I can say about her mother’s story. I was floored by it and by what it did to her. I’m still kind of processing that part, I think. I’m so glad my mother and I are close. That’s for sure. It makes me want to read a mother/daughter story… maybe with my mom. She’s reading this book as soon as she finishes The Help. She’s already excited because I’ve talked it up so much. Highly recommend!

Source: Publisher
Author’s website: http://patticallahanhenry.com/
Purchase this book: St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan | Book Depository | IndieBound

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I did not receive any payment in exchange for this review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book’s publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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    Some of the books reviewed on this blog were sent to me by the author or publisher for review. I did not receive any payment in exchange for the review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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