Monday, May 6, 2013

Audiobook Review: Hope In a Jar by Beth Harbison

Hope In a Jar
Author: Beth Harbison
Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy
Published: July 7, 2009
Genre: chick lit
Audiobook: 8 discs (approx. 9 hours)
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Twenty years ago, Allie Denty was the pretty one and her best friend Olivia Pelham was the smart one. Throughout high school, they were inseparable…until a vicious rumor about Olivia— a rumor too close to the truth—ended their friendship. Now, on the eve of their twentieth high school reunion, Allie, a temp worker, finds herself suddenly single, a little chubby, and feeling old. Olivia, a cool and successful magazine beauty editor in New York, realizes she’s lonely, and is finally ready to face her demons.
Sometimes hope lives in the future; sometimes it comes from the past; and sometimes, when every stupid thing goes wrong, it comes from a prettily packaged jar filled with scented cream and promises.

My Thoughts: I was wary to try another Beth Harbison novel after her last one was so disastrous for me, but I decided to give her another shot, and I am glad that I did. Following two women who were best friends in high school but had a falling out, Harbison shows you where the women are twenty years later at their high school reunion. The novel starts by showing you the women in the present, which is nice because you can't judge their adolescent selves for anything stupid that they might say or do (which I always do in flashbacks). The chapters alternate between the past and the present, showing you how close the two were before the "incident" occurred and how they are becoming close again, twenty years after the fact.

For me, there was just something slightly off about this novel. The big incident that destroyed Ally and Olivia's friendship back in high school is made to be a bit trivial, but you are wondering what would destroy the bond between two girls who are so close. And when it's finally revealed what happened, Harbison makes it a bit of a throw-away moment, giving no importance to what was just revealed. I was shocked by what had happened (don't worry, I'm not giving anything away!), but Harbison treats it as if there was a minor storm that just rolled through quickly. It was frustrating for me because I wanted to know what had driven these two best friends apart, but she treated it with little fanfare or importance.

The good news is that the novel is engaging and funny. I looked forward to getting in my car and listening to it, and, since it's a shorter novel, it went by pretty quickly (I prefer short audiobooks to really long ones). This is your basic chick lit novel, so there's nothing really groundbreaking that occurs when you listen, but it's nice to just get swept up in the story for a little while. The friendship that Ally and Olivia share is great, and it's wonderful to see it rekindled after so much time has passed. I would have enjoyed it more if the story was a bit more complete (as mentioned above), but it was an overall easy listening experience. I will continue to listen to Harbison in audiobook form because they are the perfect book to just get lost in and enjoy the long commute to and from work.

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