“I Liked My Life,” by Abby Fabiaschi
Publication: St. Martin’s Press; January 31, 2017
Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch…until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.
Maddy, however, isn’t ready to leave her family forever. Watching from beyond, she tries to find the perfect replacement for herself. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge…but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal?
“I Liked My Life” is Abby Fabiaschi’s debut novel scheduled to release January 31st. This is the story of Brady and his daughter Eve and the aftermath of his wife and Eve’s mother, Maddy committing suicide. This seemingly “normal” family is shaken to the core when about a month before Eve’s 17th birthday, Maddy jumps off of the rooftop of the Wellesley Library. The remainder of the novel is told from 3 points of view: Maddy, Brady and Eve. Maddy is able to see her family and friends and tries to communicate to them that it will all be o.k. and tries to urge them to move on from their grieving. Brady’s point of view highlights his struggles as a widower trying to understand why his wife took her own life, what he could have done differently and how to improve on his relationship with Eve. From Eve’s perspective, she illustrates how the experience has changed her in both good and bad ways, and she also reveals guilt about her relationship with her mother, as well as, questioning why her mother would kill herself.
This book was very different for me because initially, I had a difficult time reading it and getting involved in the story. I’m not sure if it was the overall tone of sadness or if it was just slow to start, but I struggled getting into this book and actually set it down for a few days and then came back to it – which I am so glad that I did. The first 1/4 or so of the novel is extremely sad and there are several more sad parts throughout, however, as I continued reading I found myself completely absorbed in Brady and Eve’s lives and the changes they both made as they dealt with Maddy’s death. The only window into Maddy’s private feelings and thoughts was the journal she left behind, which both Brady and Eve occasionally read, yet they still struggled for any concrete insight as to why she killed herself. The author takes the reader through an incredible transformation concerning Brady as he shifts from being completely consumed by his career to actively creating more and more one on one time for him and Eve, as well as, exploring his own interests to build a more fulfilling life outside of work. Eve feels as if friends no longer want to spend time with her due to her grief, when actually she is the one that isolates herself early on from others, focusing on moving away to attend a boarding school for her senior year. Although they continued to have occasional issues, Eve did actively work to become closer to her Dad, and also formed a close bond with her tutor, Rory, who had also experienced her own share of heartache and loss.
Abby Fabiaschi truly blew me away with this debut novel. There were some definite surprises in the plot, and honestly, there is a huge surprise towards the end of the novel, but what impressed me so much while reading was her incredible character development not often seen in a debut novel. After reading this novel I felt as if I knew these characters personally and that I had been there with them experiencing their ups and downs, joy and sorrow, and changes to their lives. The eloquent writing and abundance of emotion made this novel compelling, enriching and definitely a story that I will not forget. I highly recommend this to any lover of women’s fiction interested in a story of loss, self-reflection and finally finding peace.
Learn more about Abby Fabiaschi by visiting her web page.
*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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