The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson
Published by Shaye Areheart Books, an imprint of Random House
Every life is bound to have some regret, and Annabelle McKay’s life is no exception. She loves her husband Grant, of course, but she also loves Jeremiah, a man from her past. Now that Grant and Annabelle’s children are gone, either off to college or married and expecting a child, she isn’t sure exactly what she and Grant are doing together. He’s distant, more interested in his book than in Annabelle. The growing gulf between them leads Annabelle to think more and more about Jeremiah, and what might have been. She promised Grant twenty-six years ago that they would never speak again of what was between her and Jeremiah, but they just may have to confront it sooner rather than later.
I thought this was a very good debut novel. Dawson does a good job weaving past into the present, and developing Annabelle’s character while simultaneously developing the plot. I might have liked to see more depth for the men in Annabelle’s life, but since we were seeing everything from her perspective and she didn’t have a very good grasp on them herself, so it would have been unrealistic for us to have a better understanding of Grant or Jeremiah.
I got frustrated with Annabelle from time to time, because she certainly made some bad decisions, but I also empathized with her to a certain extent, because she often felt trapped by the circumstances of her life. Not trapped in the sense that she had no choices, but trapped in the sense that she was not where she wanted to be and she wasn’t sure that she knew how to change her life.
The writing, characterization, and story were all quite good, but “The Stuff That Never Happened” fell ever so slightly short of ‘love’ for me. I would, however, recommend this for fans of literary women’s fiction.