My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m not sure if this is 3.5 or 4 stars. There was so much about The Life You’ve Imagined that I liked, but I had some issues with the book as a whole.
I liked each of the 4 main characters. I enjoyed each of them and their stories, and I wish I could have explored each of their lives more deeply. I think that four of them was too many, both because none of the stories got the full treatment it deserved, and because that seemed like a few too many crises at the same time.
I see Anna as the center of the web, all of the other characters are somehow linked to her. She returns home to her small town, away from the big city life she’d always imagined, from the potential law firm partnership she’d been working so hard for. She’s leaving a specific situation, but I felt there was more to the story, perhaps more than even she knows.
As Anna returns home, she meets up with her former best friend Cami, who is fleeing from a crisis in her new life, and falls into a crisis that’s been building for years with her father. This provides Cami with the motivation to explore her past, and try to understand the link it has with her present.
Anna’s mother has a handful of secrets– She’s losing her home and her business due to new development turning her area upscale; she’s having health problems and can’t afford her medication; her husband that abandoned the family and has been missing for over 20 years is suddenly back in touch.
And so on– this web expands to include a network of crises for her aunt, another high school friend, her high school boyfriend, his brother, and more.
Each of these stories is interesting, and is well written. Each is both thought provoking and readable. In some cases, the problems are inter-related, and the timing is not coincidence. Others seemed forced, and like the author was trying too hard to squeeze the story together. I wanted more of each of the characters, to look more in depth at her situation, and to keep following each of them past the end of the book.
This may be a pet peeve, but I wish that there had been one couple with a happy, stable relationship. Even if they’d been dealing with family issues, financial issues, child issues, friendship issues, body issues (all of these are in the book somewhere), it would have been nice to have one stable marriage.
Back to my rating. I went with the 4 stars because really– my biggest complaint is that I wanted to be able to have more of the story. There are much worse problems to have with a book.
If you’ve read The Life You’ve Imagined (or want to read a discussion by those that have) stop by Devourer of Books on September 7-8 for a virtual book club discussion!
I received this book from HarperCollins for review. Thank you for this opportunity! For other reviews, see