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In Finding True North we meet newly single mother, Paige, and her high school acquaintance, Everett.
FINDING TRUE NORTH by Audrey Wick
Publication Date: April 12, 2018 Publisher: Tule Publishing Genre: Women’s Fiction Source: Author/ Publisher Purchase: Amazon Story Rating: 3.5/ 5
Life in a small town has always suited Paige Fredrick. She loves going to work near the courthouse square and riding her bike nearly anywhere she chooses. But after her divorce, she can hear her neighbors’ whispers and the gossip mill churning.
Everett Mullins has worries of his own as he finds himself back in his hometown, providing temporary care to his ailing mother while trying to run their family farm. A chance meeting reunites him with Paige, his crush from high school. But when he discovers her little white lie, he questions what they’ve started building.
As Paige makes a new life, can she find direction with Everett? Or has too much damage already been done to navigate a romantic relationship built on a lie?
This is a difficult review for me to write. Finding True North is a solid 3.5-star book with the potential to be a full 5. The reason for my rating isn’t that the book was bad or lacking in any way, simply that my life experiences aren’t allowing me to connect with the characters. It was a good book. The writing was engaging, the formatting was phenomenal. It was the perfect book to curl up and enjoy my coffee with on a cold winter day.
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is how my reading preferences change and evolve as I go through different phases of my life. The books I enjoyed in university would likely be a cringe-worthy admission for me now. I think that’s where I struggled with this book, I couldn’t relate to Paige. Not because she wasn’t relatable but because her experiences are so far removed from my own that it was hard to.
I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning of the book. Paige is in the grocery store mere hours after finalizing her divorce. She mulls over everything that happened during the day. How her husband had his lawyer appear on his behalf, how the proceedings had gone much quicker than expected. Paige is a single mom enjoying a trip to the grocery store alone. Although I’m not a parent, I’ve seen enough memes on Facebook to recognize how much of a treat grocery shopping alone can be.
That grocery store is where we meet Everett. I adored Everett. He was troubled, strong and mysterious and I wanted more of him. He pulled at my heartstrings; he was in town to help his aging parents as his mother battles cancer. That’s such a horrible situation for anyone to be in and I wanted to give him the biggest hug ever. And, he has a heartbreaking secret. I can’t tell you how much I want him to be happy.
Problem is, I stopped liking Paige before she even left the grocery store. I was raised by a single mother. As an adult, I can appreciate how hard it must have been for her, how many sacrifices she had to make. Single mothers are some of the strongest women you’ll ever encounter. Paige however, was stuck in this self-imposed martyr mentality.
As I read this book, I found myself frustrated with Paige. She feels as though people are talking about her, judging her because of her divorce. She nearly has a panic attack at the sight of her ex-husband. She lets her ex-husband and her best friend get away with hurting her. To top it all off when her relationship with Everett goes sideways because relationships always do in romance novels, she barely fights for him. She struggles with self-esteem and is having a difficult time getting past her perception of what the divorce means. I didn’t want to be Paige; I didn’t even want to be her friend. As I read the book, I thought of her as a potential client.
That was, perhaps, the worst part of this book. Paige has some very outdated views regarding divorce, and the stigma attached to it. While those views are valid, I couldn’t understand why they were so central to her identity. I had a list of ideas; maybe she was raised in a religious household, perhaps her husband was emotionally abusive and convinced her she was worthless without him, did she believe the failure of her relationship was a reflection on her as a person? So many questions. I know character interviews are a thing, what about character therapy secessions? I wanted to help Paige work on her self-esteem and help her find the confidence she would need to set boundaries and become more assertive.
That’s why I had to take the first star off. I couldn’t empathize with Paige’s plight. The views expressed in the pages didn’t fit with the social and political climate I’ve experienced. Divorce isn’t a big deal anymore, with 50% of marriages ending within 5 years. Paige is a statistic and while I understand feeling alone and stigmatized, we’re not given any reason compelling or otherwise to justify it.
The only way I could make her thoughts and actions fit is if I imagined the story taking place in the early 1970’s when divorce was just legalized and still scandalous and stigmatized, especially for the woman.
At its crux, Finding True North is a story about a woman trying to find herself after a divorce. While I rarely read historical fiction, I could see it being an awesome plot. What would life be like for a divorced, single mother in the 1970’s? It would be an epic story as we watched her dodge the town gossip and fall in love with the strapping gentleman who sees her as more than her past.
Paige also doesn’t tell Everett about her son right away. The other lie, I didn’t understand but I could get past it and let her do her thing. Omitting your child, as for as I’m concerned, is unforgivable.
Now, if you’re doing the math with me, you know there another half star to account for. The reason for that we’re never given a satisfying reason for the divorce. I waited and waited hoping the reason would help me understand where she was coming from.
Overall, Finding True North provided an honest glimpse into the struggles of a newly divorced mother. I think I was at the wrong point in my life to fully appreciate everything Paige was going through. However, I do plan on buying a couple copies for my single parent’s friends. I know they will be able to appreciate Paige’s struggle and read the book thinking, ‘me too’ not ‘why.’