Monday, January 30, 2023

Georgie, All Along - Review

Georgie, All Along

By: Kate Clayborn

Publication: January 24th 2023 by Kensington

352 pages

Genre: Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--The acclaimed author of Love Lettering weaves a wise and witty new novel that echoes with timely questions about love, career, reconciling with the past, and finding your path while knowing your true worth.

Longtime personal assistant Georgie Mulcahy has made a career out of putting others before herself. When an unexpected upheaval sends her away from her hectic job in L.A. and back to her hometown, Georgie must confront an uncomfortable truth: her own wants and needs have always been a disconcertingly blank page.

But then Georgie comes across a forgotten artifact—a “friendfic” diary she wrote as a teenager, filled with possibilities she once imagined. To an overwhelmed Georgie, the diary’s simple, small-scale ideas are a lifeline—a guidebook for getting started on a new path.

Georgie’s plans hit a snag when she comes face to face with an unexpected roommate—Levi Fanning, onetime town troublemaker and current town hermit. But this quiet, grouchy man is more than just his reputation, and he offers to help Georgie with her quest. As the two make their way through her wishlist, Georgie begins to realize that what she truly wants might not be in the pages of her diary after all, but right by her side—if only they can both find a way to let go of the pasts that hold them back.

Honest and deeply emotional, Georgie, All Along is a smart, tender must-read for everyone who’s ever wondered about the life that got away . . .

I read Kate Clayborn's previous book, Love Lettering. I enjoyed it, but I remember feeling like I wasn't sure she would be an author that I repeated. I can't even remember why I felt that way, but I didn't immediately jump on Georgie, All Along simply because I wasn't a fan of the author. Sometimes I read a book by a new author and immediately know I will read more of their books. But I didn't feel that way about Kate Clayborn even though I enjoyed Love Lettering. I initially decided to pass on Georgie, All Along but something changed my mind, and I picked it up.

Georgie has recently been let go from her position as personal assistant to an actress. The actress has decided to go back to a "normal," quiet life and no longer has a need for a personal assistant. She hints that Georgie will be able to focus on herself and do things she's always wanted to do for herself. But the problem is that Georgie has never known what those things are. She never had a big plan for after high school. She feels a bit blank. Her high school best friend has moved back to their hometown and is expecting her first baby. Georgie plans to help her set up her house and prepare for the baby. Only once she gets there, everything is pretty much already done. And once again, she isn't needed. That's when she finds the old fiction story that she and Bel were writing in high school, and Georgie feels inspired to go back and do some of the things her teenage self imagined doing that she never got around to doing.

I was worried this would be like a bucket list story. And in some ways, it is. But mostly, it didn't feel like one, and that's good for me because I don't always enjoy bucket list stories. Georgie isn't trying to do all these things simply because she never did them. She's trying to find the answers that have her feeling like something is missing. Some of the things she does with Bel and some she does with Levi.

Speaking of Levi, he has the most interesting story in the whole book. He was basically a troublemaker as a kid. Most of the things he did out of spite towards his dad. And his dad disowned him for it. And since he's been in some way or other trying to live his life in a way that proves he's worthy. He had the furthest to go. Although Georgie, via Bel, has a big revelation about herself also.

One gripe...if I may. There's no mistaking what side of the political fence Kate Clayborn is on. Recreational marijuana usage, hippy parents, Prius, no air conditioning, natural peanut butter, gluten-free bread, mushrooms, composting vs waste, LGBT, sustainability, polyamory, climate change, protesting animal dissection. Not all of these things are liberal agendas, but put together they sure do seem to press a particular message to the reader. Maybe Kate Clayborn was trying to write a specific type of character. Maybe. I doubt it though. I will say that these mentions felt like they fit the story better than some other authors who try to throw the whole political checklist into their books. (I'm thinking of you Today, Tonight, Tomorrow.)

To go with that, Georige, All Along was the first book I've read with a character who has "they/them" pronouns, and boy, did it throw me for a loop. I really thought it was a typo until it kept happening. I meant I didn't have a clue how this mess of a grammar mistake could make it past the editors even for a first draft. But then I realized it was on purpose, and I wanted to bang my head against the wall every time I stumbled upon a they/them reference. Another discussion for another day, but this seriously pulled me out of the story every single time.

Favorite quotes:

-"I'm sure sorry for the confusion here," says Paul. "I put you both in an awkward situation, didn't I?" He doesn't know the half of it. I've seen his daughter in a state of undress, and many dog's worn a pair of her underpants.

-But there's an old war inside me now, and the Levi I want to be is losing.

-Hank's always been good at reminding me how happiness looks.

So here's the thing, when I pull out the liberal political agendas, I was hooked into this story. Even the hippy parents were fun characters to read about. I liked Georgie even though she's about as different from me as they come. I liked Levi and his struggles and his journey. I enjoyed the relationship and the conflict about overcoming our past traumas. I still enjoyed the story enough to rate this one 4 Stars. But I'm conflicted over who to recommend this to. I guess if you don't like politics in your books, skip it. If it doesn't bother you, then maybe this one will be a winner for you. Have you read Georgie, All Along? What did you think? Let me know!

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