Acquired Book By: I have been a blog tour hostess with Cedar Fort for the past three years, wherein I took a brief hiatus from hosting before resuming August 2016. I appreciate the diversity of the stories the Indie publisher is publishing per year, not only for fiction and non-fiction but for healthy eats within their Front Table Books (cookbooks). I appreciate their dedication to writing general market, INSPY reads and LDS focused stories across the genres they publish.
I received a complimentary copy of “Right Next to Me” direct from the publisher Bonneville Books (an imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Inspired to Read:
I first came across the writing style of Ms Ward last August, when I reviewed her debut novel “Dear Jane” which was a spin on a ‘Dear John’ letter! Here are some of my takeaways from my reading of her debut which truly struck a chord with me, as it was one of the few times a Contemporary gave me a lot of fodder to chew and appreciate whilst I was engaged with the story-line! Contemporaries for me are rather hit/miss a times – I love them, but ironically or not, I find them to be a difficult ‘fit’ for my own particular interests in what I am looking for in a Contemporary read. To find a debut novelist who added such a heap into their novel which not only was to my liking but provided such a strong entrance with an overall approach of giving a reader new to their style such a lot to contemplate was the truer gift within the chapters of ‘Dear Jane’!
Ward chose to tackle heady issues in her debut novel – as she talks openly about having to readjust after losing grace within the church and the tragic loss of a loved one from suicide. These are difficulties rooted into the fabric of where Quinn’s life is taking her once she’s back home, realising that the world has arrived at her doorstep. It’s the juxtaposition all children go through when their maturing past the school years, where everything that once felt rosy and bubbly full of light and spirit was suddenly a bit marred by a swelling darkness of reality. I felt Ward broached the difficulties well whilst giving Quinn a humble and honest reaction to each new trial she was facing as her family worked through the impossible.
I loved how Ward surprises her readers by introducing Nick’s backstory slowly as Quinn starts to spend more time with him. The interesting bit is that it’s a good life lesson about not always understanding a person’s past or their personality as sometimes their stand-offish behaviour has a reason behind it. Further curious is how through her conversations with Nick, Quinn started to soften her own guarded heart and openly talk about what bothered her on a personal level. They were each others’ huckleberry friend in brewing chaos where a new friendship was fast developing without their awareness. I felt this was the most authentic part of the turning point for Quinn’s life; where she was getting a feel for how first impressions are not always accurate and how serendipity has a way of affecting your life positively even if everything else feels upturnt.
Keeping true to a coming-of age tale, not everything is as it appears to be – even when things start to look like their turning round in Quinn’s favour. This was a bit frustrating if your reading the novel and want to see Quinn’s story end in happiness at some point. It felt like everything she felt was righting itself for the good in her life was being taken from her soon thereafter. However, as relationships are naturally complicated, Ward does present good folly for her characters to wrangle inside whilst trying to sort out what they truly want from each other and from life.
Ward etched in so much behind the relationships and the growing season for Quinn, that you nearly are not entirely ready to meet each new scene where tensions are as high as the emotions! I was a bit shocked by the depth of spite from Quinn’s mother at various intervals of the story as it developed; her paltry apology at the conclusion didn’t quite warm me to her or feel as if she vindicated herself from the misery she subjected her daughter(s) too. The best part I felt was the developing love story and the arc of narrative that proves that emergencies and non-traditional trajectories are more commonplace than you realise. Life comes around the corner so blaring fast, you have to bolster your strength out of your faith and hope you have the courage to face what tomorrow brings. If you do, you’ll find butterflies of joy alighting throughout the days where you feel you cannot be surprised in a good way after a succession of adversity.
-quoted from my review of Dear Jane
When Ms Ward contacted me about her sophomore release “Right Next to Me” – I must say, I was quite captured by the premise! I am always quite eager to read a ‘next book’ by an author who gave me such a stirring read the first time round and as I’m one of those readers who has the tendency to fall ‘behind’ on when the new releases are pending for her beloved authors – it is quite a lovely surprise to hear from one of them and be offered to read their ‘next story’!
I truly love Sweet Roms for their ability to have an undercurrent of simple joys and generally a walk of faith knitted into them (although not always, there are mainstream Sweet Roms, too) which gives a little added dimensional joy in reading them as I do love a wicked good INSPY! This one felt quite realistic to me – as there are times when you do wonder if the person you’ll find as your true match is hidden in plain sight – either near you in the present or unexpectedly will cross your path in the future in such a way as to take you off-guard and not realise you’ve ‘met’ your true love. I think everyone muses about how they will meet ‘whom’ their meant to be with in marriage and in life; who they will walk through life’s adventures and share their thoughts, hopes and dreams with whilst engaged in the art of living and the discoveries of the world. I was simply overjoyed Ms Ward reached out to me as this became a special ‘surprise’ for the ‘end of Summer’!
She has a crush on her boyfriend's best friend.
How long can a good thing last? Sydney was sure Gavin was the perfect boyfriend until he moved across the country for school. After spending more time with her best friend, James, she's now rethinking everything. Sydney's once sure footing in life slips even more as she discovers new details about her own father's betrayal. Scared she'll hurt Gavin like her father hurt her, Sydney must decide if she'll stay with the perfect boyfriend or the perfectly flawed boy who's been there all along.
Places to find the book:
Also by this author: Dear Jane
Published by Bonneville Books
on 8th August, 2017
Format: Trade Paperback
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook
Stories by Rachel Ward
Dear Jane | debut novel | (see also Review)
Right Next to Me | sophomore release
Converse via: #RightNextToMe, #ContemporaryFiction, #CleanFiction