BOOK REVIEW: Promises to Keep

A few months ago I was contacted by a publishing house and asked to read and review an upcoming book. Since I love FREE things and I was immensely flattered by the request, I accepted the book and promised to review it here.

I did read the book when I received it, but I couldn't review it right away because it bothered me. I wasn't sure that I could give a good review that wasn't harsh or unflattering. I wanted to be honest because I know how much work goes into the writing and publishing of a book... but I didn't want to be mean.

That said... "Promises to Keep" by Jane Green is a good book. And no, I'm not just saying that because one of the main characters is a breast cancer survivor. It honestly is a good book. It disappointed me because I expected the book to be more about the woman with breast cancer and less about everyone else in her life... but it wasn't.

A little background:  Jane Green is one of the first women to step into the chick-lit genre and really make a killing. Her book sales are large and she has a huge fan following. I was truly excited to read this story that was loosely based on her own experiences losing a close friend to breast cancer. As a survivor, I was looking forward to seeing and learning how this disease affects the people around you. In that regard, it didn't disappoint. I did learn how it affected her parents, her husband, her kids, her sister and her best friend. I just didn't learn enough.

Just a little bit of insight about "Promises to Keep":

From Publishers Weekly

In Green's 12th novel, Callie Perry is a happily married photographer with two wonderful kids, a lovable sister, Steffi, and a best friend, Lila. Problems are minor: Steffi can never settle down, Lila has finally found love but the guy has a nightmare of an ex, and Callie and Steffi's divorced parents haven't spoken in 30 years. But then Callie, a breast cancer survivor, is diagnosed with a rare and incurable complication of the disease. Suddenly realizing that she has only months to live, she begins the painful process of saying good-bye. While the subject matter is intense and personal, it's far from depressing; the characters are warm, funny and realistic. Green (The Beach House) manages to create an authentic tale of a woman who truly loves her life and family and is trying to do the right thing for them before she dies. While Green breaks up her chapters with recipes (presumably because Steffi is a cook), this peculiar modern conceit in women's literature feels like a misstep. Overall, Green once again delivers an enjoyable emotional story. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Callie Perry seems to have it all: a handsome husband she adores, two adorable children, and a thriving business as a portrait photographer. A battle with breast cancer four years ago only made her marriage to Reece stronger, but the couple faces a major setback when agonizing headaches and a frightening blackout send Callie back to the hospital soon after celebrating her forty-third birthday. While Callie's oncologist tries to determine if her cancer has returned, her family rallies around her. Her younger sister, Steffi, a successful chef, has recently traded a fast-paced life in New York City for a quieter one in Sleepy Hollow in order to reassess her priorities. Callie and Steffi's father, Warren, has barely been able to be in the same room with their mother, Honor, since she left him; but news of Callie's plight brings him rushing to her bedside. Inspired by a friend's battle with cancer, Green's story definitely has the emotional heart and resonance to hook readers of women's fiction. --Kristine Huntley

I know that chick-lit is supposed to be pretty light and fluffy... interesting character sketches that appeal to women. But this story fell flat for me. Maybe I am too self-focused to understand but it was as though this woman's death was almost an inconvenience for the people in her life. Everyone had their own baggage and stuff to work through... and while they were sad that she was dying of cancer, they seemed to function okay. Not what I was expecting.

That said... if you're into chick-lit, if you're a Jane Green fan, and if you are interested in seeing how the caregivers deal with someone they love dying of breast cancer... this is a good story for all of that. I just think (actually, I just wish) that Jane had dug a lot deeper into the emotional baggage surrounding the disease and the anticipation of the death of a loved one. I think it would have made a more compelling story. As it is... I felt that she applied too light of a touch to the story. I felt that the person who was dealing with the breast cancer recurrence was the only one who experienced any real depth of emotions and honestly, I know better.

The people who love you through your treatment and afterwards, go through emotional highs and lows on par with yours as the patient. Please believe that. Chick-lit isn't supposed to be deep, I know that... so I think my expectations were misplaced and that's why I was somewhat disappointed with this book. One story that I read a few years ago, about a mother dealing with a bi-polar child... really took me through the emotional highs and lows of the caregiver of someone dealing with a life-altering illness. I expected "Promises to keep" to be on par with "72 Hour Hold".   But sadly, it didn't go far enough into the pain that I'm sure was felt by everyone.

It was a good story but not a GREAT story. But then again, maybe I'm biased because I've been through the breast cancer struggle and I know the impact my illness had (and still has) on my close friends and family members. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

Web Statistics