I thoroughly enjoyed reading Leaving’s Not the Only Way to Go by Kay Acker. This is Acker’s debut novel, but you would never know it by how well the book is written.
This is the story of Georgia, Lauren, and Georgia’s daughter Hannah. Both Lauren and Georgia are in the midst of the grieving process when they first meet through their work. Lauren has recently lost her father. Georgia is trying to recover from the loss of Hannah’s father, who also happened to be her best friend. Their workplace meeting doesn’t go very well, but the two keep bumping into each other and Hannah helps to draw the two women together.
This is my favorite kind of tale…a character driven story. The author did an excellent job creating and developing these people, especially Georgia and Hannah. Both have high functioning autism, and the author wrote their characters perfectly. My wife and I have raised an autistic child (He is actually a fine young man now, but he will always be our baby.) so I’m aware of some of the challenges people on the spectrum can face, such as heightened sound sensitivity, texture problems with food and clothing, and problems being around crowds. I actually stopped reading once to show my wife a passage where Hannah had to put ear plugs in her ears because her extended family insisted on singing “Happy Birthday” to her. Our son has hated that since he was a toddler, but our family insists on singing the song too. This realism made it easy for me to connect with these characters.
The premise of the novel is great, the romance is beautiful, the small town setting is perfect for the story, and the realistic characters made this book a joy to read. I only have one criticism with this book. The ending is a bit rushed and leaves some things unfinished. I really wish there was an epilogue to this story. Considering how much I love the rest of the book, though, this is a minor irritant. Overall, I’m very impressed with this author’s writing, and I definitely will be looking for more of her work.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bella Books for an honest review.