Closer to Okay by Amy Watson
for a self-recovery story, for self-love and romantic love, for descriptions that make even a non-coffee-drinker want to try a cup, for folks unfamiliar with mental illnesses and psychiatric help
Also FYI: I got this book from Aardvark Book Club, and I’ve been really loving their selections! They’ve only been up a few months, but if you’re looking for a new book subscription club, try this one out! I’ve passed on almost every Book of the Month club month this year, but Aardvark has had multiple each month I’ve been interested in and their model is very similar.
Kyle Davies is doing fine. She has her routine, after all, ingrained in her from years of working as a baker: wake up, make breakfast, prep the dough, make lunch, work the dough, make dinner, bake dessert, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s a good routine. Comforting. Almost enough to help her forget the scars on her wrist, still healing from when she slit it a few weeks ago; that she lost her job at the bakery when she checked herself in as an inpatient at Hope House; then signed away all decisions about her life, medical care, and wellbeing to Dr. Booth (who may or may not be a hack). So, yeah, Kyle’s doing just fine.
Except that a new item’s been added to her daily to-do list recently: stare out her window at the coffee shop (named, well…The Coffee Shop) across the street, and its hot owner, Jackson. It’s healthy to have eye candy when you’re locked in the psych ward, right? Something low risk to keep yourself distracted. So when Dr. Booth allows Kyle to leave the facility–two hours a day to go wherever she wants–she decides to up the stakes a little more. Why not visit? Why not see what Jackson’s like in person?
Turns out that Jackson’s a jerk with a heart of gold, a deadly combination that Kyle finds herself drawn to more than she should be. (Aren’t we all?) At a time when Dr. Booth delivers near-constant warnings about the dangers of romantic entanglements, Kyle is pulled further and further into Jackson’s orbit. At first, the feeling of being truly taken care of is bliss, like floating on a wave. But at a time when Kyle is barely managing her own problems, she finds herself suddenly thrown into the deep end of someone else’s. Dr. Booth may have been right after all: falling in love may be the thing that sends Kyle into a backslide she might never be able to crawl out of. Is Jackson too much for her to handle? Does love come at the cost of sanity?
Yes, I liked this one! I think it’s a story that’s not often told, one from the perspective of a person in a mental ward assistive living facility. And if I’m wrong about that, please let me know, because I would love to read more books like it! I’ve never had the experience myself, but have had friends who have, and reading this felt like getting to know some of what they might have experienced a little better (especially for those friends who prefer not to reflect on those times). And besides that, it was just a heartwarming and occasionally painful story. Much like life.
In short, this is a book about relationships with the self, romantic partners, friends, enemies, and the ways one person can shift between several of those categories — or fit into several all at once.