Immediately after reading Katherine Clare Owen’s debut novel entitled Seeing Julia, I asked a local online bookseller to order the next two books for me. The person in charge of ordering told me that the estimated time of arrival (ETA) of the books would be around mid-March. Given that there are still books left unread on my bookshelf, I went through with the order. Besides, I can still wait.
Surprisingly, during the month of January, S.M. Boyce hosted a month-long giveaway on her blog and one of Katherine Owen’s works, Not To Us, was included in her 31 Days of Giveaways. Plus, the said title was an international giveaway! I did not hesitate to join and waited eagerly until the Not To Us giveaway was over.
Then, after coming home from work one day, I checked my email and was utterly shocked to receive a message from S.M. Boyce, stating that I won a SIGNED COPY of Not To Us! I was squealing inside because it was the first time I won from a giveaway. I gave her my home address and after two weeks, I got a note from the post office that a parcel had arrived for me and that I should claim it immediately. Yes, it’s the book Katherine Owen herself sent to me. And yes, she signed it! So happy! Of course, I began reading it once I got hold of it.
Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:
“There are all kinds of ways for a relationship to be tested, even broken, irrevocably; it’s the endings that we’re unprepared for. My life has become a roller coaster ride mixed with equal amounts of pure joy and exposed fear; and, sometimes, this unfathomable incredulity. This arrives in spurts, like adrenalin or injected heroin; well, how I imagine injected heroin would feel. That’s when I consider that change—change, its inevitability—is coming. And, I can’t stop it.”
This is how the roller coaster ride of Ellen Kay “Ellie” Bradford’s story begins. Ellie—a successful editor, a doting mother, and a loving wife—discovers her perfect world has been rocked by her best friend Carrie’s betrayal with her husband Robert. Since college, it’s been the two couples: Robert and Ellie; and, Michael and Carrie. Ellie’s world unravels even further when she learns she has breast cancer from Michael, the brilliant surgeon determined to save her. With an unexpected pregnancy further complicating Ellie’s cancer treatment, Michael and Ellie marry, both intent on building another perfect life together with their blended families. But soon after, their extraordinary bond is tested like never before. Not To Us is an insightful look into one woman’s personal journey in discovering the only way to keep her one and only wish is to trust the ones that count, beginning with herself.
At the beginning, the conflict of the story slowly begins to unfold which greatly affects Ellie’s decision in life. With her breast cancer diagnosis and at the same time, the discovery of her husband’s, Robert, infidelity with her best friend Carrie, Ellie tries to deal with it by wishing to just stop the time and go back to the moments where life seems perfect. Mixture of emotions starts to overflow from within her which leads her to become unsure of herself – confused with what she really wants in her life.
A lot of things have happened in Ellie’s life which make the situation and the characters more realistic to read. It is, indeed, a roller coaster ride for Ellie and as I read the book, it’s as if I am also on a roller coaster ride. There are parts where I can’t seem to handle what Ellie is going through that I have to hesitantly put down the book for a while. The feeling I felt for Ellie is just so heavy. While I empathize with her, I can’t imagine myself to be in her situation as well. Nevertheless, throughout the story, readers will surely come to love Ellie as she evidently becomes a stronger person. I may be disappointed on some parts where she seems to neglect her children, but I am also happy to know that her children are understanding enough not to make the situation harder for Ellie.
Moving on, both Michael and Court possess charismatic personalities which justify Ellie’s confusion on who to really choose between the two. Her relationship with Court proves her yearning to escape the reality and live with a fictitious, fantasy life she unconsciously dreams of having. However, at the end of the day, it will still make readers weigh how different Michael and Court are from one another and later on conclude who is better than the other. Who would it be, you might ask? Read the book! You’ll never regret it.
Katherine Owen truly has her way of making the book more interesting to read. On one hand, her writing style and choice of words can make readers reach into the hearts of the characters. On the other hand, what makes this book more enjoyable is when I discover Kimberley Powers appears in it! You see, she’s one of the characters in Seeing Julia. And she still projects this strong and powerful personality which brings out the real her, just as how I imagined her to be in Seeing Julia.
Overall, what Ellie went through thoughtfully brings one to reevaluate life again – emphasizing the importance to be confident in oneself and to trust people even in the worst times. The key to immeasurable bliss is to maybe just enjoy the moment with the love ones and not to take them for granted. Not To Us is really a story about loss, love, and life – a story about embracing and accepting the things that life presents to us.