49. You Take It from Here by Pamela Ribon
I loved this book so much that I have anxiously been awaiting the chance to even sit down and write a review of it. I’ve enjoyed Ribon’s previous three books, but I definitely think this one is my favorite.
Before I get into the review indulge me in a metaphorical tangent about why I liked this book. This book can be classified as women’s fiction, which is generally an indication to me that I should avoid it as far too often I find that it means I’m getting a romance novel or so-called “chick lit”. I’ve never cared about romance novels in which the whole story revolves around a girl getting a guy. It’s just not my thing. The only romance novels I read are the ones written by my mother. Filial obligation and all that. “Chick lit” books seem to either be about girls mooning ridiculously over guys and shopping like in Bridget Jones or spineless girls who can’t stand up to horrible bosses/friends like in The Nanny Diaries or The Devil Wears Prada. Either way they make me feel stabby. None of this is to condone people who enjoy these books, they’re just not my bag. I do however enjoy a good romantic comedy movie. I only bring this up because my mother doesn’t understand how I can hate romance novels and chick lit but like romantic comedies. I’m not sure I have a good explanation, but I can tell you that You Take It from Here, despite not actually being a romantic comedy, pushes all the same buttons for me.
You Take It from Here is not a high work of literature, but it is completely satisfying. I liken it to the Dairy Queen ice cream cone I insisted on getting for dessert following the fancy pants meal at the restaurant where I got engaged. The meal was reading a Pulitzer Prize winning novel while You Take It from Here is the equally as satisfying but for completely different reasons DQ dessert.
The story (hey look at that I’m finally actually going to talk about the book for real) revolves around long time best friends Danielle (whose name I have a surprisingly hard time remembering given that it’s my own) and Smidge. When Danielle returns home to Louisiana from LA for the annual trip she and Smidge take together she finds out that Smidge has terminal lung cancer and would like Danielle to take over her life, raising her teenage daughter and marrying her husband after she dies. The book is written as a letter to Smidge’s daughter Jenny detailing the decisions Danielle made to try and honor what might be her best friend’s final wish, which I thought was a lovely detail.
It’s a wonderful story about friendship and family. There were some scenes that were so realistic that they almost took my breath away. The characters in this book felt so real that even a week and half after reading it I can’t stop thinking about what is happening to them. I definitely didn’t always agree with the things they did or the way they acted to the point that I wanted to slap both of them at various points, but the characters are so well written that even when their behavior bordered on outlandish I was still able to find it believable. I initially wasn’t entirely happy with the ending because I wanted to know more about what happened to the characters, but I got over that very quickly and decided it was in fact the perfect ending to the story.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Go read it now. You won’t regret it. I rate it a 9 out of 10.