Title: If You Only Knew
Author: Kristan Higgins
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: HQN Books
Source: Review copy from publisher
Wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate understands the happily-ever-after business, yet somehow she's still involved in her ex-husband's life. In fact, Owen's new wife may—inexplicably—be Jenny's new best friend. Sensing this, well, relationship isn't helping her move on, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she'll be able to bask in her sister Rachel's picture-perfect family life…and hopefully make one of her own.
Her timing couldn't be more perfect, since Rachel will need her younger sister. Her idyllic marriage has just fallen to pieces in spectacular fashion after she discovers her husband sexting with one of his colleagues. Second chances aren't in Rachel's nature, but the desire for an intact family has her rethinking her stance on adultery, much to Jenny's surprise. Rachel points to their parents' "perfect" marriage as a shining example, but to protect her sister Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship—and reveal a secret about their family she's been keeping since childhood.
During this summer of secrets and lies, temptation and revelation, Jenny and Rachel will rely on each other to find the humor in their personal catastrophes, the joy in their triumphs…and the strength to keep hanging on.
Jenny Tate’s world came to a stall when her perfect husband, Owen, blind-sighted her with the news that he didn’t love her anymore and didn’t want to be married with her, but still wanted to be her friend. To Jenny’s great surprise, just couple of months after their divorce, Owen is remarrying and having a baby with his new wife, the baby Jenny always wanted, but Owen said he wasn’t ready for.
Jenny has a successful career as a wedding-dress designer, but not everything is right with her life, Owen is still in the picture and now his perfect wife Ana-Sofia has become a friend. They both are so nice Jenny can’t hate them as she thinks she should. Jenny knows their relationship isn’t healthy, especially for her. She needs to move on with her life and she knows she needs distance to do that. With a new plan, she leaves Manhattan behind and moves to Cambry-on-Hudson to be close to her sister, Rachel, and start a new life. At life that might include her apartment handsome super, Leo.
Rachel is a stay-at-home mom of three-year-old triplets; she is married to Adam, a handsome and successful lawyer; she has the perfect house and the perfect marriage, at least it was until she realizes Adam was cheating on her.
Rachel is devastated and doesn’t know what to do, what to believe or how to proceed. She doesn’t want to lose her picture perfect family, but she doesn’t know if she can trust Adam again. At least Rachel is now close by to provide the support she so much needs.
If You Only Knew is nothing like Kristan Higgins previous books. With If You Only Knew Higgins took a leap from contemporary romance to women’s fiction and although I liked it, I’m not sure all of her fans will agree with me. Why? Because If You Only Knew lacks the lightness, humor and feel-good feeling that characterizes Higgins’s books. Even, her hallmark dog in this story is a representation of loss and pain.
The story is told by Rachel and Jenny’s alternating points of view. This made it easy to know and feel what they were feeling and experiencing at different times in the story. I liked both sisters, I liked the relationship they have and I liked that knew they could count on the other. Being in both their heads made their pain felt real and it made it easy to identify with them and with what they were going through.
Rachel and Jenny’s relationship reminded me of my relationship with my sister. I know she will always be there for me whenever I need her, I also know that is possible to hurt her without wanting and that she will forgive me because she will know that my pain was the one that hurt her and it was not really my intention. That was exactly what happened between Rachel and Jenny, so it was very easy to understand what they were going through and the difficulties they were experiencing in their lives and in their relationships.
The secondary characters are all well rounded and bring something important to the story. From the easily hated like Owen, Adam, and Lenore (Rachel and Jenny’s mother); to the likeable like Leo, Kathleen, and Andreas.
If You Only Knew is not an easy read. It’s a book that will make you question your life and consider many “what ifs”. It’s a book about love, loss, pain, surviving the difficulties life throws your way, and finding inner strength to move forward with your life.
At the end there is not a Happily Ever After, but there is hope that everything is going to be all right.
I recommend If You Only Knew to women’s fiction fans and to those Higgins’ fans who doesn’t need too much romance or humor in their books.
My Verdict: 4 Paws
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