Review: April and Oliver

April and Oliverby Tess Callahan and Abby Craden
Goodreads|Purchasing
Release Date: June 3rd 2009
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads description: Best friends since childhood, the sexual tension between April and Oliver has always been palpable. Years after being completely inseparable, they become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives cross once again with the sudden death of April’s brother. Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April – and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to “save” his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own–secrets he hasn’t shared with anyone, even his fiance. But April knows, and her reappearance in his life derails him. Is it really April’s life that is unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral…towards salvation.

This book was definitely a challenging read, but I’m so glad I read it. It’s intense and heavy–certainly not a light read. Sometimes while I was reading it, I didn’t like it. Sometimes I didn’t even want to like it. However, when I finished it there was no way I could say I didn’t like it. Somehow, I really enjoyed it. This book probably isn’t for everyone, and it deals with some dark themes. Please be ready for that if you decide to read it.

The main characters April and Oliver grew up as close friends, just on the verge of more. The story begins with April’s brother dying and Oliver and April talking at the funeral after years of no contact. Oliver is moving back after years of being away and his fiance is with him. Immediately there’s a wall of conflict between them. Throughout the story they cope with the death and many other family hardships, and try to figure out how to be around each other again. A lot of the time, it isn’t easy for them.

Sometimes these characters made decisions that I really hated and didn’t agree with at all. They were difficult and combative, and sometimes it was pretty ugly. But life is ugly sometimes, isn’t it? Their problems seemed realistic and their confusion and mistakes did, too. Even when they did horrible things, they still held some likability (although I’ve read reviews by readers that didn’t like any of the characters). April isn’t the type of character I usually enjoy at all, but I was surprised to discover that I actually did like her. She is a dichotomy of strong and weak, and while she is surrounded by tragedy and made mistakes, I ended up liking her a lot. She made some really unfortunate choices and she suffered for them, but I do believed she grew and changed by the end of the book. I liked Oliver a lot, too. He was clearly confused by what his family and the world expected of him versus what he wanted. He had to make tough decisions about what he wanted from life. He also made some really stupid decisions, but I think in the end he grew a lot, too. Their chemistry is complicated, intense and sometimes downright uncomfortable. They clash and argue and get pretty harsh with each other. But I still found myself pulling for them.

There were a few things I really wanted to see happen in this book that didn’t. I wanted to see more resolution, but I liked the end anyway. Again, this isn’t a story tied up in a neatly packaged, which is so realistic because honestly, when has life ever been neatly packaged?

Overall, I thought the story was good and the characters were easy to connect to. It wasn’t always easy to read and it wasn’t exactly a fun read, I can see why some people would not like it at all. However, something about the story felt right to me, so I am really glad I read it!

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