Sunday, September 28, 2014

Above All by Rebecca Brooks (Book Review)

I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Casey is in her early thirties, holed up in the mountains of New York State while she licks her wounds from the break up of her longtime relationship with Nick. Even in her sleepy campsite she can't help but hear about his debut novel and how it's taking the literary world by storm. She's closer to reconnecting with the self she lost in her twenties while she was nurturing his dreams, but that doesn't make his thanks to his new girlfriend any less stinging.

In walks Ben, a camper in his late twenties that Casey knows she can't have but that she can't stop thinking about anyway. And who could? He's tall, dark-haired, handsome, kind, a great cook- and really into Casey. She soon realizes that she doesn't want to say no to a future with him, but what about his dreams?

And really, what about hers? What I found most thought-provoking in this book was the implied question of whether dreams change. The younger Casey wanted to be a painter but shelved that ambition and replaced it with a more practical degree in Art History. So when she gets an unexpected opportunity to have a long-buried fantasy satisfied, why does she hesitate? Is she unworthy of the dream- or is the dream unworthy of her? And how many of her desires invite the same question?

There are several graphic sex scenes in this novel, but everything goes toward the development of the relationship between Casey and Ben. The novel is very sensual even before the two meet: as I was reading, I felt myself transported to the lake, mountains, cabin and campsites. Brooks does an excellent describing not only the way a setting looks but how it feels. And not just settings: even though I'm an avowed tea drinker, I found myself craving a cup of very hot French-pressed coffee with a splash of cream, accompanied by an almond croissant with powdered sugar on top. Really, everything that Brooks described was mouthwatering- and not just the food.

This was an enjoyable, quick but not-too-quick read. I would happily read more from Brooks (but I really hope she incorporates more food in future works).

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