This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Bean. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Best First Book and Contemporary Categories.
When Kelly Reynolds’s husband died, he left her—the awkward, cautious one—to raise their two young boys. She’s pieced herself back together, barely. Now she takes refuge in her routine: running her kids around and running the trails near her Idaho home.
Two years after her husband’s death, a chance encounter on a run brings Andrew into her life. But Andrew is Andy Pettigrew, the Andy Pettigrew, famous actor. Kelly hates risk, and a love affair with Andrew is certainly tempting fate. She doesn’t fit into his Hollywood world. She doesn’t own a pair of Louboutins, and she couldn’t walk five paces in them if she did. Andrew oozes cool. She reeks of dork.
But despite this, they click. It may be inexplicable, but it works. However, it’s also becoming clear that Andrew struggles with the pressures of his fame. Kelly’s hold on a so-called normal life is already tenuous, and as much as she might want to indulge the fantasy, she doesn’t know how either of them is supposed to cope with stalkerazzi and tweet-happy fans with camera phones. She and Andrew both have secrets that seem impossible to keep.
Beck Anderson’s witty, engaging writing yields an emotional tale of love, loss, and all the little things that make up a life. In the end, what is it that really holds us together? Kelly must decide if love can fix two people who might be broken beyond repair.
And here is Bean's review:
Fix You, Beck Anderson's first novel, is cute, if only cute. I read it quickly (a night home by myself) and, while I enjoyed it, there was nothing particularly memorable about it. It was simply just … cute.
Kelly Reynolds is the widowed mother of two young boys living in Boise, Idaho. Three years after the death of her husband, she meets Andy Pettigrew, Hollywood movie star (although she doesn't recognize him during the initial meet cute). Improbably, they begin a long distance romantic relationship. Kelly struggles with their difference in lifestyles – she is a 37-year old, stay at home mother of two and he is a 29-year old movie star – while Andy struggles with his inner demons. Neither believes they can “fix” one another. Overall, it is a sweet, “clean” (there are no explicit sex scenes, just a lot of kissing and “sometime later”s) romance and an admirable first novel.
I had a couple of minor problems with this book that stuck in my head and, I think, took away from my wholehearted enjoyment of it. First, the novel is written in first person present, which is something I just tend to have a problem with. It's a personal choice. In Anderson's defense, the tense was consistent (a HUGE pet peeve of mine) throughout. Kelly refers often to a shadowy past and after a while, I just wanted her to spit it out (although the “mystery” was fairly obvious). Anderson finally reveals the secret when Kelly writes a letter to Andy, which felt a bit like a cop out, but because I'm not sure how else the information could have come out given the narrative voice.
I also had a hard time placing the novel in time. Because it's Anderson's first novel (and a contemporary), I just assumed it took place in the present day. But while Kelly refers to checking her Facebook and there are a handful of pop culture references that support this, there are also mentions of flip phones and printing MapQuest directions. Picky? Absolutely, but these anachronisms took me out of the story.
Finally, I had problems with the character development. Andy isn't written with a lot of depth – other than the fact that he's movie star handsome, I was never quite sure what Kelly saw in him. In fact, he seemed pretty flighty. Kelly, in general, was oddly motivated. Determined, after the death of her husband, to live more in the moment and with less fear of the future, I understood why she threw caution to the wind to date this much younger movie star. What I did't understand was her refusal to see that there was more to the story than she originally anticipated.
SPOILER ALERT (Highlight to read):
It becomes obvious fairly early from his oblique hints that Andy is an alcoholic, or at least has an obsessive personality. When memories of an earlier trauma send him into a downward spiral, Kelly is surprised to realize that he is an alcoholic. But Kelly's dead husband was ALSO an alcoholic. In fact, she herself says that she doesn't like to be around alcohol for those shadowy reasons she doesn't elaborate on. Her complete suprise at Andy's problemse seemed niave and not consistent with how Anderson had portrayed her from the beginning.
I really enjoyed Anderson's writing style in general. Her descriptions of depression and mourning were heartbreaking. Kelly describes the loss of her husband as an ache she carries around under her chest and I'll admit to tearing up when she spoke of her sadness. There's a beautiful skiing metaphor about taking chances and committing to decisions that carried throughout the novel in a lovely way.
Overall, I thought Fix You was fine, but nothing special. The characters were likeable, if one dimensional, and while I ranted about the voice, I don't think it would bother others as much as it bothered me. In general, I liked it well enough and am looking forward to more work by Anderson.