Another of my Books of Summer has been released, and read. This time I’m reviewing Promises to Keep by Jane Green.
Callie Perry is a successful family photographer living in upstate New York. She adores her two daughters, has great friends, and actually doesn’t mind that her workaholic husband gets home at 9 p.m. every night-that is, when he’s not traveling six months out of the year.
Callie’s younger sister, Steff, on the other hand, has never grown up. She’s a free spirit, living in downtown Manhattan and bouncing between jobs and boyfriends. Lately, she’s been working as a vegan chef, even though she can’t cook.
Lila Grossman is Callie’s best friend and has finally met the man of her dreams. Eddie has two wonderful children, but also a drama queen ex-wife who hates Lila. And then there are Callie and Steff’s parents, Walter Cutler and Honor Pitman. Divorced for thirty years, they rarely speak to each other.
The lives of these colorful characters intersect when they each receive a shocking note that summons them together for one extraordinary summer in Maine and changes their lives forever. This novel is about the hard choices we have to face, about having to be your parents’ child long after you’ve grown up, and about the enduring nature of love.
In my “Books of Summer” post I talked about how I loved Green’s books because I can relate to her characters. No matter if she was writing about a single girl, newlywed, or happily married woman, I found bits of the character that I enjoyed. In “Promises to Keep,” the author writes about three women. One a happily unattached girl, one happily committed, and one happily married. I was not able to relate to any one of them.
In this story it felt like Green forgot what made real, interesting women, and instead turned to stereotypes to create her leading ladies. Steffi meets every “single girl” stereotype there is. She’s unable to keep a job for long, dates guys that are horrible for her, and floats along in life. Lila, who has given up on having children [spoiler alert]suddenly finds herself unexpectedly pregnant[/spoiler alert]. Green talks so often about how happy Callie’s perfect relationship is that I start to roll my eyes. I just couldn’t get behind these ladies like I had in Green’s previous stories.
Although it was hard for me to get behind the female characters, I did find the peripheral characters enjoyable. The story of Walter and Honor–Steffi and Callie’s parents–was adorable to watch unfold. The character of Mason–a book publisher and client of Steffi’s restaurant–has an interesting story that kept me guessing throughout the book. Even though these characters played minor roles, I kept reading to find out how their subplots ended.
While I found some of Green’s characters a bit off, the story she told was powerful. Once the plot started going–about halfway through the book–I was unable to put it down. The emotional highs and lows of the characters’ journey grabbed me. I kept a box of tissues next to me and needed to use it frequently. Even though I often found myself unable to connect with the characters, the story was so powerful that I did end up enjoying it a great deal.
Review: I expected this book to be another fantastic Jane Green read, but that was not the case. The disconnect I felt with the main characters meant it took longer for me to get into the story. Once I connected with the plot, I found the book to be an pleasurable read.