Comfort and Joy, by Kristin Hannah

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In Kristin Hannah’s novel, Comfort and Joy, high school librarian Joy Candelaro is a realist, but still a dreamer. Her beloved job is real. So is the fact that her ex-husband, Thom, and her sister, Stacey, are now a couple.

It is one thing to choose to change your life, but it is something else entirely to have change thrust upon you without your approval. This particular change has hit Joy like a ton of bricks. Being the result of betrayal by the two people she trusted most in the world has made it even more difficult. How does someone recover from something like this? How does someone regain a semblance of control when everything she knew has been tossed to the wind? All she has left to hold on to is her job, and it isn’t enough.

Joy’s answer is to give herself a spontaneous gift. A change of scenery should do it; the chance to leave dusty Bakersfield and board a plane to the lush Pacific Northwest.

Little does she know that this decision will take her on a journey of discovery. A journey of the heart and mind.

To tell more would spoil the plot.

This is a novel that requires some compromises from the reader. The reader must suspend reality a bit, which I was willing to do. The reader must also accept the fact that not all questions (there are many) will be answered by the book’s conclusion. That was harder for me. And, although I’m glad I stayed with it until the end, there were times I almost put it down permanently. The book is flawed, but still sweet and worth your time. Resist the urge to tell yourself “that would never happen.”  Just give yourself over to the events and let the plot envelop you.

This is most definitely in the category of “Women’s Fiction.” The book taps into many of our emotions: empathy, despair, hope, and love. It is escapist and it is enjoyable.

8/10

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