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Publisher's Summary

Gina Zoberski wants to make it through one day without her fastidious mother Lorraine cataloguing all her faults, and her sullen teenage daughter May snubbing her. Too bad there's no chance of that. Her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys them both, no matter how hard she tries. Instead, Gina finds order and comfort in obsessive list-making and her work at Grilled G's, the gourmet grilled cheese food truck built by her late husband. But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine's kept hidden for 40 years. In the face of her mother's failing health and her daughter's rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go...

©2018 Amy E. Reichert (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

My problem is the subject matter - GRIEF.

Most of the book has way too much time with three females grieving deaths of husbands/fathers/first-loves. Most of the story is flashback memories of nice times together before the person died: how they met, their relationship, how they died. Even at the end of the book there are more tear jerking grief scenes. This book is sooo different from the author’s first book “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.” I loved that book. It was a contemporary romance story but drawn out like womens fiction. It was an enjoyable escape. This new book “The Optimists...” is a totally different type of book. No fun. A downer.

The characters: Lorraine was cold and distant to her two daughters Gina and Vicki now around age 40. Gina’s teenage daughter May is cold and distant to Gina. The men in Lorraine’s life are dead. Gina’s husband died two years ago.

AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
Teri Schnaubelt did a great job. I would listen to her again.

DATA:
Narrative mode: 3rd person. Story length: 352 pages. Swearing language: the f-word 2 or 3 times. Sexual content: none. Setting: current day plus flashbacks Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Book copyright: 2018. Genre: grief fiction.

OTHER BOOKS:
I’ve read two other books by this author.
5 stars. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.
3 ½ stars. The Simplicity of Cider. (Lack of justice for crimes done.)

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great story that is worth your time!

I always love the stories Amy Reichert weaves and this one was no exception - so good! Worth your time. And listen to her other books if you haven’t yet!

1 person found this helpful

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love this book

absolutely loved this book I laughed I cried I am so happy I listened to it

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A well written beach book!

Strong female characters with lots of layers. Honest emotions and dialogues. Great read and will totally recommend

1 person found this helpful

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great story

great read! truly loving Amy's novels more and more. this story was touching and real, hit home for me.

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  • JJ
  • 02-15-20

Not optimistic.

The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go

Disclosure: I won an ARC of this book from Goodreads. Since so much time has passed since that win, for the purpose of this review, I listened to a purchased Audible version.

This is not an optimistic book. The story is told from the point of view of three women—three generations of a dysfunctional family. The grandmother (Lorraine) is overbearing, critical, uses coconut oil for everything, and has spent her adult life living a lie. The mom (Gina, supposedly the optimist) runs a food truck that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches. She suffers from panic attacks and compulsively makes lists because she’s still grieving the loss of her husband after 2 plus years. The teenager (May) is predictably rebellious, sulky, and also grieving the loss of her father. She has some good ideas for brownie recipes. There’s also a former nanny/BFF to Lorraine named Rosa who has assisted Lorraine in lying to her daughters, and Lorraine’s youngest daughter (Vickie) who has four children. Vickie is bossy, self-centered, has no filter when she speaks, and lugs a bottle of wine around in her purse.

Lorraine suffers a stroke, so the secret/lie is discovered. The story is told in flashback after flashback after flashback—from Lorraine’s, Gina’s, and May’s perspectives.

When the story is in flashback mode, it drags. When the story is told in the present, each character is selfishly wrapped up in her own world. The men (all the ones who have died) have shed all faults in the memories of the three main characters. No one is particularly likable, not even Rosa.

There were a couple timeline problems for me. In certain flashbacks, the Vietnam conflict is mentioned. To avoid a spoiler, I’ll just say that there’s a problem with a date mentioned regarding this topic given that U.S. troops were withdrawn from Vietnam in 1973.

Rosa is said to be a grandmother at the time she first knows/works for Lorraine. Lorraine (contemporary setting) is said to be 69, and Rosa claims to be 15 years older. That would necessitate Rosa marrying and giving birth to her children at a very young age. Rosa’s children would also need to produce their children at a very young age, so that Rosa’s grandchildren could be old enough to be outside playing in the yard in a certain flashback. I just didn’t buy that. I also don’t believe that Rosa at age 84, would still have the stamina to herd four rambunctious little ones (all under the ages of 10) plus the sulky middle-schooler, while Gina and Vickie were at the hospital taking care of Lorraine post-stroke.

When I add those two timeline issues together, it REALLY doesn’t work for me. Having cared for a few stroke victims in my lifetime, there’s a great deal of suspension of belief required to make this story work for me. The ending was just too HEA, given the level of self-centeredness each of these characters possessed. No one can change that much in so little an amount of time. It would require YEARS of self-discipline, especially if those characters do not seek help from above.

Overall, this book was a disappointing read after enjoying the author’s delightful debut novel. The narration was ok.