The Choice I Made by Cynthia Ellingsen
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary
In a way, there is nothing special about this book. And that’s what makes it so good. It doesn’t promise something extravagant or beyond reach. It is the story of Julie, told from her perspective, about the choices she has to make. As we read more, we see how choices made by others in the past impact the future of more than one person.
The book starts with Tristan, Julie’s husband, not being happy about their holiday at the Wood Violet resort. The place is Julie’s birth home and a part of who she is. I wouldn’t consider it a spoiler when I say that we start to dislike the husband from the first page. He does have a few redeeming qualities, but that’s for later.
Julie and Tristan live in Chicago, living the life of an almost-power couple. The holiday at her family home and the news of her mother’s sickness make Julie stay back, much to the chagrin of the husband. The resort had been her first love, and well, she also meets her childhood friends and her first love, Chase, in the resort.
The discovery of an 18 yo (Margaret) hiding in an abandoned cabin, the caution, the lies, truths, the discoveries, and how they all tie-up with the place form the rest of the story. We get to see Julie trying to handle things her way, looking for support, coping with loss (her miscarriages), and attempting to save her marriage and the resort.
What I Love:
A lot happens in the story. We see internal thoughts, actions, doubts, decisions, and hesitations. But Julie doesn’t ramble. She is stressed and confused, but she doesn’t go on and on.
The friendship between Julie, Tilly, Chase, and others was heartwarming to read. I wish there was more of Tilly in the book.
Margaret sounds like a typical teenager- rude yet shy, strong yet vulnerable, blunt but loving. Her character was great to read.
The family interactions were genuine- concern mixed with love and the strong urge parents have to protect kids from unpleasant things.
The support Julie gets from her parents, as she struggles to make the right decision.
The growth in Julie’s character as she realizes that she put her career ahead of her parents while also feeling torn about her future.
There is a beautiful dialogue towards the end where Julie explains the importance of not hurting another person for her advantage.
The author didn’t make Tristan a completely heartless jerk or the villain in the story. He was real and could be any of those guys who we see around us.
Good balance in writing- it’s neither too emotional nor too dry. The mix is just right. I could finish the book in 2 days.
What I Wish was Better:
Though it was only Julie’s narration we saw, it felt like she was the one who apologized, tried too hard, and wanted to make things work. I was waiting for her to realize that things weren’t worth it.
Not enough data about the two key characters in the story. It was hard to empathize or feel for them when we knew very little about them.
After finishing the book and reading the blurb again, I felt they didn’t exactly match. But that’s fine. The core of the story is how Julie experiences a change in her perspective and how it impacts her life.
Overall, this was a lovely women’s fiction book with bits of mystery and some family drama. It was a heartwarming read and a fast one too. If you are like me, you’ll love just how easy the writing is. The books that don’t mess up my reading speed are my favorites. I gave the extra 0.2 only for that.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bookouture.
About the Author: Srivalli Rekha is a blogger, writer, and amateur photographer. She got a degree in MBA and MA English Literature and chose to become a writer and a poet instead of a corporate professional.