Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda HolmesEvvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Published by Random House Audio on June 25, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth "Evvie" Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn't correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy's childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the "yips": he can't throw straight anymore, and he can't figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie's house, the two make a deal: Dean won't ask about Evvie's late husband, and Evvie won't ask about Dean's baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken--and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they'll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they've broken, the plans they've changed, and the secrets they've kept. They'll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there's always a chance--right up until the last out.

TBH I’m not a big NPR listener, much to the disappointment of my bestie and my boyfriend. I’ve just always been more of a fiction person than a nonfiction person, so unless it’s a quiz show, I’d rather listen to music or an audiobook in the car. My boyfriend could tell you that one of my flaws is changing the radio in his car from NPR to music. All that to say that Linda Holmes being an NPR…person (correspondent? DJ? reporter? host? I do not know this terminology) wasn’t a big draw. Actually, it made me nervous that Evvie Drake Starts Over would be more literary fiction than contemporary romance. But omg friends, this book is an amazing contemporary with a great romance. The hype is real and earned.

When the book begins, Evvie’s finally mustered up the courage to leave her husband, horrified to have finally hit the point in her life where she’s spent more time with him than without him. Her bag is packed, she’s ready to go, but then she gets a call informing her that her husband has died in a car accident. Her husband’s death puts Evvie in a weird place emotionally, though not for the reasons you might expect. Though everyone in her small Maine town regarded him as a paragon, Evvie’s husband was cruel to her, and she didn’t love him anymore. While she doesn’t want to ruin everyone else’s memories, hearing him praised and being expected to mourn him is tough on her.

Enter the catalyst for change: a major league pitcher with the yips, Dean Tenney. Now, this is absolutely the most trope-y set-up, as this famous baseball player who just happens to be the childhood friend of her bestie, Andy, moves into the apartment in her backyard. It is trope city, and I love it, but also FYI though it’s trope-y everything is handled in a very believable, realistic way, and not in a wish fulfillment way.

As I said, Dean’s the catalyst for change, but it’s not because he changes her or she changes him. Obviously, they do impact one another, but it’s more the freedom of being able to communicate with someone who doesn’t start out with judgment about your baggage. Their friendship enables them to open up about feelings they’ve been keeping inside, because sometimes the best person to talk to is someone who doesn’t know you or your situation.

All the characters in this book are so well established, and the character arcs that Evvie and Dean go through are amazing. The best romances make sure to have a character arc for both MC and LI, because otherwise it feels unbalanced, with one being perfect and the other flawed. Dean and Evvie initially help one another through their issues but find that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done solo, because love alone does not fix everything.

Speaking of the romance, I really love Evvie and Dean, but they’re not my usual sort of ship. It’s a very quiet, realistic sort of romance. They’re just two people who get along really well, who share interests and enjoy spending time together. One thing that really stood out for me was that, from the start, they felt comfortable with one another. It’s not something you generally get from romance, which tends to be about the big passion, but in real life feeling at home with someone and having them not drain your batteries is the feeling that really lasts. Not that they don’t have passion, of course, but it’s not the sort of fiery, bantery relationship I usually go in for. But I love that these two will absolutely go the long haul, because they understand one another and will absolutely do the neverending communication stuff that makes a healthy relationship.

Evvie’s relationship with her best friend Dean is also a highlight. It’s always nice to see male/female friendships in fiction for one thing. Aside from one swiftly aborted attempt at dating, just because everyone thought they should, they’re completely platonic. They weather various friendship difficulties over the course of the novel, largely caused by the distance Evvie’s husband put in their relationship, both alive and dead.

The mental health aspect of this book is huge, and it’s probably the best part, though the whole book is amazing. Despite knowing that her husband treated her poorly, her journey’s about realizing that she’s been emotionally abused all this time. In fact, I think her husband probably had antisocial personality disorder, as he was charming to everyone but tore Evvie down more and more as the relationship progressed; he’s also a doctor, and doctors commonly do have antisocial personality disorder. I loved the way that Holmes looked at the myriad ways that emotional abuse affected Evvie’s whole mental landscape and the way it impacted her relationships with others. The portrayal of therapy is beautifully done.

I loved this book so much, and so has every person I’ve known that’s read it so far. Do yourself a favor. And omg I hope they announce some more Linda Holmes novels ASAP.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

One response to “Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes”

  1. Bob Williams says:

    Nice article, thanks for sharing!

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