I wish I could say that I totally loved this book, but I didn’t. For that reason, my review of Hopes and Dreams by P.J. Trebelhorn is going to be a mixture of good and bad.
First the good. I did really like the premise of the story. The idea of a book about two women where one had been a bully to the other in high school is an interesting storyline. It provides all kinds of angst as well as moments of introspection for the characters about their lives then and now. Both of those things did happen in the story, at least with the two main characters, Riley and Vic. Overall, the tale is well written and flows easily. I read the entire book without having to skim which sometimes happens with stories I have trouble with.
My biggest problem is with the characters, both main and secondary. I connected with Riley who was the bullying victim in the novel. Her thoughts and actions ring true to her character. I had trouble connecting with Vic. She was wishy-washy through most of the tale, and only really showed she had any kind of a back bone when she was fighting with her mother. She was constantly giving in to her twin sister Vanessa’s wishes and actions. Vanessa was one the leaders of the group that bullied Riley in high school, but throughout the novel she would go from being apologetic for her former behavior to acting like an adult version of that high school bully. It happened so often that I felt like I was getting virtual whiplash. I began thinking of her as this book’s Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. She was so irritating that I think whatever her character was supposed to do for the story became lost. She needed to be either one or the other, or at least show a steady progression of character improvement.
The other major problem with this novel is the ending. The big conflict/angst part of the tale didn’t happen until very late in the story, and because of that, there was an extremely short resolution to the romance. This, of course, made the ending feel very rushed. In fact, this book is screaming for an epilogue that isn’t there, and I’m left wondering if these two will really stay a couple.
As I said at the beginning of this book, the story is not all bad. It did keep my interest, and I can tell from the writing that Ms. Trebelhorn is an accomplished writer. Though I honestly can’t recommend this novel, I will look forward to reading more of her writing.
Thanks to NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for giving me the chance to read and honestly review this novel.
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