Friday, June 21, 2013

REVIEW: THE HOLE IN THE MIDDLE BY KATE HILTON


Sophie Whelan has it all – including a hideous boss, a distracted husband, daycare woes, problem employees and a 40th birthday on the horizon. Precariously close to slipping off of the treadmill that is her daily grind, Sophie is startled by the reappearance of Will Shannon, the great unresolved love of her life. As she relives the vivid drama of their college romance, Sophie confronts the choices she has made in life and in love and looks for the one answer that has always eluded her: what does she really want?



Published April 23rd, 2013 by Kate Hilton

Where to Find The Hole in the Middle:

Where to Find the Author:


This was a refreshing change from some of the things we've read lately. Our protagonist is a 39 year old woman--married with 2 young sons, and a stressful job.  The narrative goes between her last year in college and the last few months of her 30's.

I think many women who have a spouse, kids, and are stressed out at work can identify with the anxiety and exhaustion that Sophie exhibits. I know I've had those moments --those moments when I feel like I'm barely holding my life together by my fingertips and any minute I may have a complete and utter meltdown. Kate Hilton captures those moments with the exact level of frustration and exasperation that I've felt. As a matter of fact sometimes when I was reading this novel, I felt my own anxiety levels rise just thinking about the events Sophie was experiencing.

Girl, I've got the spouse and stress at work thing down pat, and I was utterly in awe of the dialogue between Sophie and Jesse and then the dealing of all of her co-workers. It is so true that this is a little bit different than what we normally read, because a lot of what is popular (and yes, we love it, so not knocking it) today is the gorgeous bad boy who stops his man whore existence to be with you and only you and the girl is breathtakingly beautiful, yada yada yada. In the craziness that is currently my life I appreciated this book so freaking much because it was real, and had heart, and even gave me a little bit of hope that I am in fact not crazy (although, eh, that might be debatable...but c'mon...dealing with the general public in healthcare is stick-a-pen-in-your-eye painful at times). 

It was so nice to read something that I could identify with--the angst of being almost 40 and working your ass off to acquire what you have and looking around and wondering if this is all there is, how much longer can you sustain it, and if you had only done x, y, or z...how would life been better/different/easier/etc.?  Then once that panic subsides, to have these perfectly wonderful moments of clarity, contentment, and joy is amazing.

You are so right. I don't know how mom's today do it...there is so much going on all of the time...and if you're working: who's going to pick them up, what if they're sick, who calls in to work if they're sick, are you doing the right things, are they social enough, etc. ...I'm not a mom yet and I already feel the pressure of these things. Women are so quick, myself included sometimes, to judge each other and manipulate and overthink situations. I loved this book in its truth to the fact that we all have to face these things and it is ultimately about communication and openness with everyone around you albeit your spouse, parents, siblings, best friends, coworkers and even your children. 

Enough about me...here are some other things that I think readers might like: Sophie's friend Zoe and the way she categorizes men/relationships, the relationship she has with her mom, Lil and her disguises and her manipulations, and the problematic coworkers--we've ALL been there, I think. Those all add to the humor and tension weaved throughout.

I absolutely loved Zoe's classifications of what types of men we are looking for. The Jane Austen type person who is looking for the knight in shining armor to come and save the day but still prove that they see you as an equal partner in life and love...wow...could this have been written any more for me in my life? (Not that all of the situations are the same, but since I am currently preparing to leave my job of 5 years to go back for more nursing school, I can relate!) Her relationship with Lil was definitely a highlight as well. They have a long standing relationship where Lil is the one in a romantic comedy that doles out her epic life advice one teeny detail a time when you most need it and least expect it. Her manipulation of all of them in helping guide them to what they need, but still giving allowing for free will was profound. I want to be more like her.

Then, there is the Will/Jesse/Sophie tension--the ultimate did I marry THE one or did he get away? Sophie is married to Jesse but has questions about Will, the man she thought was her true love in college. Of course this questioning adds just one more level of stress to her already stressful life. I have to admit that the flashback/college Sophie was a bit sappy and naive--all of her thoughts on how men work, what they think, how love works was, at times, eye roll inducing but also sweet and funny. The overthinking/overanalyzing grown up Sophie is a step up from that but I found myself thinking...DON'T DO IT SOPHIE...don't throw away your marriage to pursue a 'what if'. The thing is she's tired and she and Jesse aren't firing on all cylinders and the miscommunications are messing with her thoughts on her marriage. Thankfully Zoe metaphorically bitch slaps her into reality and then Lil quietly nudges her in the right direction too.

We had a long discussion about cheating in general this evening, and a little bit about it in the book sense where I really hate it, especially with it  is giving me reasons to root for it. I hate that! But in a book it is justifiable, while real life..obvs not. I did not want that in any way for this story, or for those precious little boys. This whole plotline is perfectly paced, and got my heart racing just a bit, but did not reach Code Blue level angst, so I will just say....hang in there....yell at Sophie...yell at Jesse to pull his head out of his ass and help her...I just did a lot of yelling, okay! I had a little bit different outlook on the flashbacks....I liked them a lot in the sense that they weren't too long or too angst filled and gave us enough intrigue into the history of the relationships of these people to keep the pace going, but make me wonder numerous times how did they get from point A--to point B. And there is a teeny tiny twist at the end that had me shrieking and texting when I figured it out. It took forever to dawn on me, but I have to give a hearty golf clap up to Ms. Hilton for that one...kudos! 

This book may not appeal to those much much younger because it may be hard to identify with the growing pains of almost 40--but I do think this book has a lot of wisdom and insight to offer. (It reminds me of the movie, This is 40--some of my younger friends just didn't get it yet....meanwhile my friends and I were laughing hysterically).

I still need to watch This is 40! I loved this one because even though I'm 24, I'm married, I work...a lot...and sometimes it seems like everything is so damn perfect for everyone else. (So I am bitter that the motor has to be replaced in my car that I've only had a month...sorry I am projecting this on you fine people!) Anyways...it also could be that I have found I am at a new stage in life (I was really, really excited by how well my windshield wipers were when I replaced them....) where so many new and different things matter. I am hoping that I can get all this shit sorted out now, with the help of my wonderful friends (S, S, J & L) that when I get to this point I will be less crazy! Cheers to that...!

Shelley: 4 Stars

Courtney: 5 stars

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