I’ll start off with full disclosure about something: I’m a fan of Carrie Elk’s (or Choc as I still call her in my head) writing and have been for a long time. With that said, there have been stories of hers that I’ve kind of shied away from (see: run away screaming) fearing she was going to rip my heart out, stomp all over it, and skip away gleefully.
Going into COMING DOWN, I was scared shitless. Seriously, I read it with a heavy feeling in my stomach and only one eye open at times. BUT I read it all in one sitting. (See: devoured each word like a savage). It’s emotionally raw enough that it’s not even in the realm of fluff, but hopeful enough without berating you with angst.
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From the summary, and pretty much as soon as you finish chapter 2, you already know there’s going to be something of the love triangle variety with our MC Beth (Bethany), her college boyfriend, Niall Joseph, and her much older husband Simon. Though that trope normally makes me cringy and ragey, Carrie does a good job of weaving the story in a way that if you’re not paying close attention, you DON’T realize there’s any sort of love triangle business going on. At the same time, there’s enough of it there that if you DO like this trope you still feel the essence of it.
Beth’s major life choices aren’t really ever about ‘which guy’ to choose. It’s about how she handles her past colliding with her present. It’s about how she balances her everyday struggles while being around her old college boyfriend that she’s still in love with, and her husband—and protector—who she’s trying to love.
I will also say this, there are times it’s going to seem easy to dislike her husband, Simon. And I did, at times. I teetered between a neutral dislike and scoffing annoyance, but there was never a hatred or disdain for his actions. Beth is his trophy wife, yet she isn’t a gold digger. Simon loves her despite her age, but still acts like her father at times. A role it takes a while for Beth to tire of. In defense of it, I’ve been in that large age gap relationship before. It happens. Whether or not it should is up for discussion, but the older guys can sometimes take on that role without realizing it. I guess that’s another way of my giving Carrie props for approaching it in what I’ve experienced is another realistic fashion.
At the center of the story is the drug rehab clinic and after school program Beth runs—made more important once you get to know her past run-ins with drugs.
There are enough plots, subplots, an even subbier plots (let’s pretend that’s a word) to keep you hooked.
There was a well-rounded cast of characters, but Allegra a child of a drug addict (also mentioned in the summary, so that’s not a spoiler) who attends the after school program completely stole the story for me and broke my heart. She was just as much a main character. And her heartbreaking story gave me a book hangover. Which is why as a greedy greedy reader, I’m hoping one of Carrie’s publishers demands a follow-up story about the future of Allegra and how her drug addict mother, Daisy, affected her later in life.
I will say though that, for me, I think I’d have rather less of the back and forth in between chapters. The “then” and “now” only because I know Carrie can give the backstory well without spelling it out, but I also see the importance of the way it was done. That you have to get into Beth’s past head in order to understand how it drives the present and some of her decisions.
In my Greedy McGreederson nature the “Thens” or “Nine year earliers” gave enough while still only scratching the surface. I’d have liked them together in a full prequel novel. But that’s my greed talking. J And I won’t say any more because then I won’t stop talking and it’ll become spoiler city.
5+ stars for the author’s writing.
A solid 4.5 stars because I’m greedy and feel that, again, the then’s could stand alone in a different novel and weren’t all that necessary to make this story feel complete.
ANSWER THIS QUESTION IN THE COMMENTS. I WILL PICK TWO RANDOM WINNERS AND GIFT THEM AN E-COPY (gifted through Amazon) OF COMING DOWN
*** In Coming Down, Beth is married to a man almost twice her age. I pictured him as the sexy George Clooney. Who is your (or one of your) older or younger actor crushes?? Post the name or picture below.
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Winners of the giveaway will be announced on Monday 9.29.14
❤ Lore Ree