The Real Liddy James (★★★☆☆)

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Anne-Marie Casey   *   G.P. Putnam’s Sons   *   September 20, 2016   *   336 Pages

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Liddy James has a lot on her plate. She’s a successful divorce attorney, bestselling author, frequent talk show guest, and single mother to two boys. Her schedule is packed, and she barely has time to fit it all in–but, somehow (well, with a lot of hired help…), she does. Lately, things aren’t going her way, though. Her roof is leaking, her boss is demanding even more from her at work, and her teenage son is acting out. On top of that, her relationship with her ex-husband is even more tense than usual, and, though she usually gets along with her husband’s partner of many years, suddenly the two of them aren’t seeing eye to eye either. Liddy’s professional reputation depends upon her looking like she is effortlessly keeping it all together, but she’s overwhelmed and having a difficult time hiding it. It’s only a matter of time before she cracks–and, unfortunately for her, the unraveling will be televised.

The first 200 pages of this book are so good. Oh my God, I loved the beginning part of the story so much. We’re talking 5-star material, without question. Liddy is an engaging character, yes, but I wasn’t prepared to be so enamored with her ex-husband, Peter; his long-time girlfriend, Rose; and Liddy’s two children, Matty and Cal. I basically fell in love with this family and with their story. Author Casey is so good at weaving backstory in with fun and at least somewhat suspenseful current drama that I had no problem breezing right through these pages.

But then…everything went south. I don’t want to give away too much of the book, but let’s just say that there is an incident and Liddy ends up going on a trip. That trip is the focus of the last 100 pages of the book, and it has almost nothing to do with the 200-page story that came before it. It was like an entirely different book was tacked on to the end. Gone were the measured tones, thoughtful insights about relationships, and lovingly-developed and complicated interactions between characters–all replaced with cliche romances, random and convoluted plot twists, and a completely, COMPLETELY unrealistic and dissatisfying ending. Casey, what happened?!

I was so ready to give this book five stars, but I just can’t believe how bad the last third was. I feel like Casey could have taken this story a million different places from where it ended up, but it all just got away from her somehow. Ugh, it makes me sad to think of what could have been.

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