Thank you to Trish Collins at TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for So Happy Together by Deborah K. Shepherd! I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Deborah K. Shepherd
Published April 20, 2021
As her stultifying marriage is unravelling, and in the midst of mourning the loss of her creative self, Caro Tanner has a nightmare about Peter, an old love whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years. She takes this as a sign he still needs her. With her three children safely off to summer camp, Caro embarks on a pre-Facebook, pre–cell phone road trip to recapture who she once was and what she thinks she once had.
Set in the sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll ’60s in Tucson, Arizona―when Caro and Peter were kooky, colorful, and inseparable drama students―and in the suburban ’80s, when Caro’s creative spark has been quenched to serve the needs of her husband and children, So Happy Together explores the conundrum of love and sexual attraction, creativity and family responsibilities, and what happens when they are out of sync. It is a story of missed opportunities, the tantalizing possibility of second chances, and what we leave behind, carry forward, and settle for when we choose. It sits in that raw, messy, confounding, beautiful place where love resides. - from Goodreads
Caro, unhappy in her long marriage to Jack, decides to take a road trip to visit the man she never forgot about, her first love and college sweetheart, Peter. Along the way, she revisits her past, which makes her reconsider her future. I'm torn on how to rate this book, because I love the premise of trying to rediscover who you once were, perhaps feeling like you've lost parts of yourself over the course of a long relationship, but I also felt like Caro was holding onto a past that didn't necessarily exist.
Some things I didn't enjoy:
- I felt like Caro's recollections of the past were sometimes viewed through rose-colored glasses. She recounts her time at college in the late 1960s, experimenting with sex and drugs, and ultimately her relationship with Peter, which seemed to define her time there. Something about the relationship felt off to me from the start, and when it was revealed why, it made sense. I felt sad for Caro that she could never have the relationship she truly desired from Peter, but also frustrated that she was so focused on getting one thing from him. Knowing what she does about Peter, it's kind of hard to understand her motivations for getting up and leaving her husband one day, thinking that everything will be different with Peter.
- I wanted more of Caro's life with Jack. We get bits and pieces of how her life changed after she met Jack (the nose job, giving up her dreams for a career), but most of the book focuses on her time with Peter, decades earlier, and I felt like I needed to know more of why she felt so dissatisfied in her marriage.
Some things I did enjoy:
- The writing. Caro was an actress and budding playwright, and I think Shepherd captured that so well in her writing. From the touches of drama to the imagined scenes in her head, you can tell that Caro is an intelligent, thoughtful woman who clearly hasn't lost her touch for the stage.
- Caro's love for her children. Despite her issues with Jack, Caro never forgets about her children and worries how this upheaval in her life will affect them.
- Even though I had issues with the Caro/Peter relationship, I loved the way Peter always accepted Caro for exactly who she was. He loved and supported her, and I think that's why she still thought about him years after their relationship ended.