Title: The Closest Thing to Ok
Published: 1st June 2015
Publisher: CMW Press
Author: Cristy Rey
At eighteen years-old, Sam DeCastro moved to Tallahassee to lend her recently widowed brother a hand in caring for his two small children. Five years later, Sam is their sole caregiver; her troubled brother increasingly fades from their family picture. Not a mother to the children that she raises. Not a wife to the brother that she’s shackled to. Not a daughter to the parents that hardly loved her as a kid. Not a cookie-cutter example of the perky PTA parent—not with her tattoos and penchant for heavy music, twenty-three year-old Sam has practically no social life, no college degree, and no room for love in her life.
Jake Turner is the counselor at Canopy Hopes where Sam’s niece and nephew attend school. Jake had Sam once, and then he lost her. Six months later, when they reunite for a parent-teacher conference, sparks reignite. With Jake back in the picture, Sam must decide what she wants for her own life: Stay trapped in a platonic marriage with an absent husband of a brother? Strike out on her own, leave the kids behind, and never look back?
Jake isn’t sure that Sam sees a happy medium, but he wants her to. He knows that, if she doesn’t, there won’t be any room for him in her life.
A story about doing the best you can for the family you have and holding on to the people that make you happy. Also goes down as another off my 2016 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book by a female author.
Sam has been pushed into living a life she wouldn’t have picked for herself at such a young age. She has pretty much been the sole carer for her brother Paul’s two small children, Mark and Allison, for the past five years because he couldn’t cope with them after the death of his wife. A one time party girl and now a full time mum – life has certainly dealt her, and the children, a tough hand. Her whole life now is about the children, so much so that she pushed away the one guy who wanted so much more. When they come face to face again after so much time you can still see the feelings they hold for each other bubbling just under the surface, they just need the right spark to set them off.
Jake is willing to try again as long as he can get more of Sam this time around. He knows she has the children to cope with but he wants to be with her as well as them if only she’d let him. She needs to learn to trust him with her heart and know that he has only ever had her best interests at heart. The closer Sam lets Jake in this time the more she wants to push him away as she doesn’t want to draw him into her messy situation. Takes her a while to finally figure it out though that that’s just where he wants to be. Right in the middle of everything, figuring it out together. He wants to be in their lives – hers and the children’s. They are a family and when he finally gets them he has no intention of ever letting them go again.
I did sometimes want to shout at Sam for her reactions to Jakes advice about Paul and the children though. Which was usually spot-on and what she later came round to thinking herself. I think that on some level with Sam not confronting her brother about his behaviour sooner, like Jake suggests, she was enabling him with his lack of responsibilities. She never wanted to cause a scene or make him uncomfortable and it’s not until she gets pushed into a corner that she breaks and realises how much help he really needs. Then there’s when Jake says that the kids are hers and that she isn’t just playing mum but that she is mum, she just freaks out and tells him to leave. Yes I can see that Jake didn’t fight for her enough after that disagreement, and only fought harder once he had a push in the right direction, but her reaction was a bit out there. I think it was more that he hit a nerve than her not really believing it herself. I mean she keeps telling herself that she isn’t their mum but the first words out of her mouth when she thinks that they are going to be taken away from her are ‘don’t take my babies’.
Now I’m not saying I didn’t like this book because I did but it just took me a while to really get into it. I think it was due to the fact that the POVs kept changing so quickly between Sam and Jake, sometimes halfway down the same age, so it didn’t always flow. You would be reading one part thinking it was Sam then have to re-read when you found out that it was Jake.
All in all though this book is full of strong willed characters that pull you along the journey they go on. Family drama, love, friendship, everyday struggles of life; this heart-warming book has it all.
3.5 out of 5 stars
I received this ARC from Give Me Books for my honest review.