REVIEW: THE LIFE YOU’VE IMAGINED, BY KRISTINA RIGGLE

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The small town of Haven, in Michigan, is the kind of place some want to leave and never revisit. For Anna Geneva, an attorney in Chicago, coming home after the loss of a dear friend and mentor feels like going backwards. Her mother, Maeve, is struggling with her store, and soon Anna realizes that her old boyfriend’s company is planning an urban redevelopment project that will demolish the business. Her protests to the City Council fall on deaf ears.

Reconnecting with old friends is one good outcome of returning to Haven, like with Cami Drayton, who is staying with her alcoholic father and hiding a secret addiction of her own. Can Cami find out the dark secret her father is hiding?

Then there is Amy Rickart, former overweight girl who has lost enough weight to win a fiancé, Paul Becker, one of the sons of the builder who is rehabbing the Geneva’s store. Her desire for perfection seems to be governing her life, however, and some strange obsessions do not bode well for her future. Plus, her fiancé is a bit of a jerk.

When Anna sees Will again, the elder Becker son and her old boyfriend, sparks seem to reignite, but how can they possibly make anything happen between them, since he is married with a daughter?

Then, out of the blue, Maeve begins receiving letters from her long missing husband, reminding her of the lost love and the feelings she had before the abandonment that has informed her life for years. Will she respond to his requests? Can she trust him again?

Narrated in alternate chapters by each of the primary characters, The Life You’ve Imagined: A Novel is the kind of story that reminds us of how old dreams and old friendships can help us reinvent ourselves, even when nothing seems possible. A recurring theme reminds us of the quote: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”

Themes of starting over, reconnecting with old friends and lovers, and redefining one’s life in the face of loss and adversity kept me turning pages, enjoying the characters, and wanting to know more. 4.0 stars.

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