The Man You Meet In Heaven by Debbie Viggiano
About the Book
- Genre: Romance | Humour
- Length: 323 pages on an e-reader
- Published on 25th September 2018 by Bookouture
Received this copy from Bookouture @Netgalley. Opinions presented are my own.
A fabulous feel-good read from the bestselling author of What Holly’s Husband Did.
When Hattie Green pops to the shop one afternoon, she never expects her life to flash before her eyes between the tins of baked beans and a special offer on sliced white. One minute she’s loading her trolley and thinking about what to give her son for dinner, and the next she’s speaking to a gorgeous man in a glowing white suit about what her life could have been…
If you had the chance to go back and relive it all, what would you do differently? Go on that date, take that promotion… eat that second biscuit? Hattie is about to discover where she went wrong, but will her mystery second chance reveal some STONKING secrets in her past that probably should have stayed hidden?
A gorgeous romantic comedy with a few twists that will make you say OMG! Perfect for fans of Tracy Bloom, Marian Keyes and Dawn French.
Highlight to view Content Warning: Sexual abuse and an Explicitly written scene
There are many shades of love, and many colours of us.
When I picked up this book, I expected a light, humorous, feel-good read. Though the book did have a bit of humor sprinkled between pages in the form of brilliantly crafted lines, like this:
In my village, there was a small army of frustrated seventy-something females who’d had their golden years rudely interrupted by balding sons who were too broke paying maintenance [alimony] to get back on the property ladder.
it wasn’t a very humorous read. This book explores the grey areas of relationships and what it means to move on in life.
Hattie, our protagonist is a single mum and is the sort of person who finds faults in her own doings even though the situation clearly bears witness to her innocence. After she gets hit on the head in a grocery store aisle, her life comes to a standstill as she reviews her past and makes amends.
Hattie’s character was very well- developed. The growth curve was clearly leaning on the positive side. As the story progresses, you get to see layers of her personality. She isn’t a saint and she admits it. She isn’t the perfect protagonist or the victim and neither does she attempt to play one. Hattie’s character, her ambitions, her decisions-both good and bad made her seem very real. It is safe to say that the author did her job well and while she didn’t make Hattie a very ‘likeable’ character, she did ensure that she was ‘relatable’.
Hattie’s philanderer husband, Nick was also well-chalked out. In a few pages, you get to see what kind of a man he is; an egoistical alpha male with some feelings to spare. The good thing about Nick was how he managed to convey what the essence of his character was in just a few pages.
Other than these, there really wasn’t much time given to any other characters. Ironically, the one character who shares the most page-space (as in screen-space) with Hattie is the one with almost no development, Josh is what he often repeats to Hattie ‘a neutral coordinator’. He is the guide, the one who helps Hattie review her personal life while remaining fantastically aloof. I am not saying this in a bad sense. The story didn’t warrant any other characters to be developed other than Hattie’s and her husband, hence I am completely okay with it.
The writing was well, not brilliant but add an adjective just below it and that was what the writing was. My main problem was with the over the top scenes of the Halfway Lounge, the place where Hattie ends up and ‘reviews’ her life. The beauty of the Halfway Lounge was overly exaggerated and the details of those little excursions that Hattie took with Josh were inflated to the point that my bubble of patience was about to burst and I did think of DNFing the book altogether. However, before you jump to conclusions, there were a few passages that were exceptionally written and displayed the author’s ability to portray her character’s mindset with ease. Here is one of my favourites:
I’d determined that whilst splitting up meant you kept your own earnings, no longer had to entertain step-kids who detested you, and could have just a sandwich for supper if the mood so took you, there were other things that simply didn’t fit into that category. How do you quantify the reaction when you and your husband see your child take his first step? That is worth something, because only you and he together can truly appreciate how special it is. And there are countless things like that which are involved when children are in the equation.
The pace with which the story moved forward was abrupt. I loved reading about Hattie’s past from her review moments but when she came back into the Halfway Lounge, it became more than a bit boring. The unexpected twists and turns that Hattie’s story took are honestly what propelled me to even finish the book. I could have done without knowing the Halfway Lounge’s existence. The second half of the story progressed at a much rapid pace than the first half of it.
And I really could have used a Content Warning for a very graphic scene, which by the way was a bit OTT and a bit unnecessary.
The ending was very predictable. I knew how this was going to end right from the beginning chapters. But, I guess it’s more about what’s in-between the chapters that mattered than the end itself.
Overall, this is not a book that you should pick up if you want to read a feel-good chick lit or a laugh-out-loud comedy. Neither is this a book that pushes you to think that deeply about your own choices. It lies somewhere in between, more towards the latter part.