Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Take It From Me by Jamie Beck (9/20/22)

Take It from Me by Jamie Beck
Expected Release: September 20, 2022

Recommended: yep
For a book about a person writing a book, for some free therapy, for two characters who blend beautifully well, for a nuanced look at mental illness (Specifically one that’s usually played for laughs, dismissed, feared, etc)

Summary

Wendy Moore hides her collection of pilfered bric-a-brac from everyone, including her husband. He thinks she licked her kleptomania in therapy more than a decade ago. Therapy did help, as did focusing her attention on motherhood. But now Wendy’s gardening and furniture-refinishing hobbies fill up only so much of the day, leaving the recent empty nester lonely and anxious—a combination likely to trigger her little problem. She needs a project, fast. Luckily, Harper Ross—a single, childless younger woman in desperate need of highlights—just moved in next door.

The only thing Harper wants to change is the writer’s block toppling her confidence and career. Then a muse comes knocking. Sensing fodder for a new antagonist, Harper plays along with Wendy’s “helpful” advice while keeping her career a secret so Wendy keeps talking. Sure, she’s torn about profiting off her neighbor’s goodwill—especially when Wendy’s matchmaking actually pans out—but Harper’s novel is practically writing itself.

Just as a real friendship begins to cement, their deceptions come to light, threatening Wendy’s and Harper’s futures and forcing them to reconcile who they are with who they want to be. Easier said than done. 

Thoughts

If you read the blurb for this and worried that the character with kleptomania would be the all-too-common rep of a quirky mental illness that gets her into awkward shoplifting situations, etc: you are happily incorrect in that fear. I feel like it’s important to start with this, because the book itself even acknowledges how often that’s done in books, movies, and other media. The author in the book learns a lesson about it, and that allows readers to as well (if they need to). I really appreciated that it felt like a truly nuanced look at how it affects people who have it as well as those they love and are around them.

Now, if you looked at the blurb and thought that the contrast in personality of the two main characters was going to be delightful — as I did — you are happily correct this time! Wendy and Harper are fairly far apart in age, but are especially far apart in their lifestyles. Of course they manage to find some common ground and revel in their often opposing viewpoints, and doesn’t that just make for the best friendship? I adored their interactions, and especially how much they each learned about themselves by opening up to the other honestly.

The story alternates pretty evenly between Harper and Wendy for the narrative perspective, which I enjoyed because I could see how each of them felt about their interactions. They each had so much personal reflection going on that I felt like I was getting therapy second hand from hearing how they came to understand their own conflicts and seeing what resonated with me personally as well.

There’s romance as an element to this story, but it’s definitely not the focus. It’s shown more as a piece of their lives that helps them understand the rest. And of course there’s Harper trying to write her book, so this had a strange meta feeling at times where she would discuss writing about her characters, who were based on Wendy and Harper — our characters — and it was a surreal roundabout where our book characters were analyzing themselves as characters. 😅

Overall I enjoyed this story and got a lot of feelings from reading it. It also read easily because I was invested from early on in both of them.

Thank you to Sparkpoint Studio for a free advanced copy. This is my honest review!

Author:

Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

3 thoughts on “ARC Review: Take It From Me by Jamie Beck (9/20/22)

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