Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Book Review: "Evvie Drake Starts Over" by Linda Holmes

If you're looking for a book to charm you completely and worm its way into your heart, you don't have to look any further than Linda Holmes' debut novel, Evvie Drake Starts Over. Boy, did I thoroughly enjoy this one!

It's been nearly a year since her husband died in a car accident, and Evvie (like "Chevy," not "Stevie") Drake has spent most of the time holed up in her house, trying to stay out of the public eye. Her husband was a beloved physician in their small Maine town, and she is rarely in the mood to hear everyone's continued condolences and their encouragement that she seems to be holding up well.

Everyone, including her own father and her best friend, Andy, think she spends her days trying to get her grief under control. She's not interested in correcting them and letting them know the truth.

Andy's childhood best friend, Dean Tenney, was a major league baseball pitcher. He was in a few World Series championships and was well known for his pitching skill. Until one day he couldn't pitch anymore. He wasn't injured, he wasn't exhausted, he wasn't ready to be done with baseball—he just couldn't seem to throw straight no matter how hard he tried. And he tried. Everything. But after a while he got tired of the world second-guessing and ridiculing him, so he just walked away.

When Andy proposes that Dean move into the apartment at the back of Evvie's house, it sounds like a good deal for the both of them. Evvie can pick up some extra money since she hasn't been working much over the last year, and Dean can find a quiet place to reset himself, outside the glare of the media. They settle on the perfect deal: Evvie won't ask him anything about baseball, and Dean won't ask her anything about her marriage or her husband.

"The amount of time people who have just met are supposed to look directly at each other, particularly without talking, is a unit that's both very short and very precise. When you exceed it, you get suspicious, or you get threatened, or you get this flicker of accidental intimacy, like you've peeked at the person naked through a shower door."

As the two start to build a friendship, however, those rules start to go out the window. Evvie tries to understand what is keeping Dean from pitching the way he used to, and tries to determine if he really is satisfied with giving it all up. And for his part, Dean begins to realize all of the secrets and emotions that Evvie has kept bottled up for so long regarding her marriage and her relationship with her late husband.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see where their relationship might be headed, and of course, there are complications along the way. How do two people who have gotten so used to keeping their lives so private begin to trust in one another, and how do they help each other without pushing too hard? Can a relationship between two people who are just beginning to truly know themselves really succeed?

"Your head is the house you live in, so you have to do the maintenance."

No matter how predictable some of the plot of Evvie Drake Starts Over is, this book is pretty wonderful. I enjoyed these characters, flaws and all, and I found their backstories just as fascinating as the road that Holmes unfurled for them throughout the book. Both Evvie and Dean have had their share of damage and hard-knocks, and it isn't easy to realize that you can't always fight every battle on your own, nor do you have to fight every single battle.

At times the book moved a little slower than I hoped it would, but I still couldn't tear myself away. This book does deal with some serious issues, but it also has a tremendous amount of humor and hope, not to mention a few pretty steamy sex scenes. I wouldn't mind a return visit to Maine, to Evvie and Dean and Andy and Monica.

This book is the perfect solution for you if you've been reading a bunch of heavier books recently. It will make you chuckle and it may even make you tear up with happy tears, but it will definitely give you someone to root for.


  1. So glad you enjoyed this one. I did as well. It really stays with you!