Thursday, April 02, 2020

Fiction Review: For Once in my Life

I just finished reading For Once in my Life by Colleen Coleman, a fun, uplifting rom-com. I was surprised when my husband gave me this novel for my birthday last year because I rarely read romances or rom-coms. But this was just perfect for my mood last week, after reading two thoughtful nonfiction books and watching way too much news the past few weeks! I enjoyed it very much and was pleased to realize the focus wasn't just on romance but on a woman finding her place in the world.

Twenty-nine-year-old Lily was left at the altar three years ago, when her fiance told her--with a church full of family and friends waiting--that he was in love with her best friend and maid of honor (who loved him, too). Since then, she has lived a carefully limited life and is slowly, cautiously beginning to heal. Lily works for a small, local newspaper that has gone downhill and lost readers under the non-leadership of an ineffective editor. But when Lily shows up for work one day, she discovers that he has quit in a huff, and top management from corporate headquarters are on their way in from London. Before she knows what has happened, Lily is the new Editor-in-Chief, a "transformational consultant" named Christopher has been assigned to help turn the paper around, and Lily and her team have just four weeks to show a big increase in sales and readership in order to save their beloved paper. The management team wants Lily to write a series of feature articles, where Lily tries some bucket list items, to give the paper that personal touch that readers seem to respond to. Being Editor-in-Chief is a dream come true for Lily, but a lot is riding on this new features series. What bucket list items can she attempt when she is pretty much afraid of everything these days? Luckily, she has Christopher by her side to help push her beyond her limits. It turns out to be a situation for not just professional development but personal development as well.

I was immediately pulled into this entertaining novel and thrilled to find out that the focus was mostly on Lily finding inner strength, rather than on a man fixing everything for her, with a side plot about her rocky relationship with her mother. As a writer myself, I loved the plot focus on Lily's career as a journalist, and I could also relate to her authentic "I am what I am" approach to life. That said, Lily was definitely in a rut and living an overly cautious life. Trying some outrageous bucket list items turns out to be just what she needs, not only for saving the paper, but for expanding her world, too. The writing was engaging and moved along at a nice pace, which was just what I needed this week. While a few things seemed unrealistic to me (not a single negative comment online on Lily's first column!), the story is mostly realistic and uplifting, in an imperfect way. I was also pleased with the ending, which is a happy one but not all tied up in a neat bow: hopeful yet complicated, just like real life.

259 pages, Bookouture

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  1. A rom-com is the perfect read right now! This one sounds like fun.

    1. I agree, Helen! It hit the spot :)