Also by this author: Good Luck with That, Pack Up the Moon
Published by BERKLEY on June 9, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Kristan Higgins is fast becoming one of my go-to authors when I’m in the mood for a moving read that focuses on family. That’s exactly what I was in the mood for when I picked up her latest novel, Always the Last to Know, and wow, does it deliver! I just finished reading and I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes as I’m writing this review.
Always the Last to Know follows the Frost family. Barb and John have been married for five decades but have gradually drifted apart over the years. They have two daughters, Juliet and Sadie, who are night and day in terms of personality. Juliet is an Ivy League graduate and a brilliant and successful architect, while Sadie is a struggling artist trying to make it in New York, currently working as an elementary school art teacher to make ends meet. Juliet is also happily married with two beautiful children, while Sadie lost the love of her life when she moved to New York to follow her dream. Because they’re so different, the relationship between Sadie and Juliet is somewhat contentious at times. Sure, they love each other; they just don’t necessarily like each other very much. Their lives all come to a screeching halt, however, when John suffers a stroke and ends up unable to care for himself or even speak.
I have to admit that the novel did start off a little slow for me, but thankfully it picked up as soon as Sadie moved home to help with her dad. I loved that the story is presented in alternating chapters between Barb, Sadie, Juliet, and John, and Higgins does a wonderful job of conveying what each of them was thinking and feeling as they are trying to navigate John’s recovery. It’s an emotional journey for everyone, as they are all dealing with personal and/or professional dramas as well. John’s chapters are of course moving since we’re the only ones who know what he’s feeling. My heart also went out to Barb as she is forced to really examine her relationship with John and where it went wrong over the years, as well as to Juliet, who is starting to cave under the pressure of always having to be the “perfect” one.
For me though, it was Sadie who is actually the heart and soul of Always the Last to Know. I was in her corner as soon as I realized she was the underdog in her family, and her journey is the one that I found myself the most emotionally invested in. Even before her dad had the stroke, Sadie has already gone through so much, being rejected repeatedly in terms of her art, and then having to choose between her art and Noah, her first love. When Sadie moves home and comes face-to-face with Noah again, I felt their chemistry so hard and was immediately rooting for them to find their way back to each other.
I don’t want to give away any major spoilers, so I’m just going to say that Always the Last to Know was an emotional roller coaster for me as I followed each of these characters. The family dynamics, the secrets revealed, and the ensuing drama all felt very realistic, not over the top at all, and everything about this family just really got to me. I cried several times the closer I got to the end of the story and even though I was still in tears when it was all over, I was very content with the way the story ended. If you’re looking for a moving story about love, family, self discovery, and second chances, look no further.