Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Guest Book Review: Emily Giffin - The One and Only

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Ask yourself: what would you do if the one for you was the only person you couldn't have?

Shea Rigsby is content enough with her life in the small town of Walker, Texas. She has her dream fangirl job working for Walker's football team, a mostly satisfactory relationship with her boyfriend, and even if she's got the sneaking feeling life is passing her by, she doesn't quite have the confidence to do anything about it.

But everything changes when the mother of Lucy, Shea's best friend, dies suddenly. Lucy's father, now a widower, is the town's charismatic football coach, and Shea's hero since she was a young girl. Coach Carr is now alone as he and Shea grow closer than ever, Shea realises she can't help how she feels... for the father of her best friend, who's grieving for his wife.

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

The One and Only is the seventh novel from American author Emily Giffin released late last year. I have read one or two of her books before and I know her earlier novels Something Borrowed and Something Blue were extremely popular and are often mentioned as peoples all time favourite chick lit books, Something Borrowed was even made into a movie starring Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin amongst many other famous faces. This new release is not chick lit instead it is trying to be on the more serious side of women’s fiction (failing miserably might I add) but I really wish it had been as it would have been more light and easier to read and maybe have had more of a storyline. Having read some other reviews online I know other readers felt the exact same as the way I feel after trudging though this laborious read. Yes, there are some people who gave it five stars and raved about it but the majority from what I could see were in agreement with me.

I don't find it easy being negative but in this case it is far better to be honest than have readers waste several hours reading this. Ok so I read it over three days (unusual for me to take so long with a book) but still the time I lost over this period can never be gotten back and I was left with a real sense of dissatisfaction and utter disappointment that a book I had looked forward to reading could leave me so cold towards both the storyline and all the characters. I hesitate to use a certain word to describe my overall feeling regarding this book instead I will say I intensely disliked this book and would tell people not to waste their time with this one instead concentrate on the author's earlier more well written books.

The book opens with a funeral, Connie Carr beloved wife of the Walker football team coach has died from cancer. Lucy her daughter and Lawton her brother are in distress. Shea (Lucy's best friend) is doing her best to be there for the family who have done so much for her since she can remember. Although we never get to know Connie she must have been an impressive woman as she has left quite a legacy behind her. She has made lasting impressions on the people in the book be it through her fund-raising work or the support she gave her husband Clive Carr throughout his coaching career. Connie's death is the catalyst for many of the actions that happen in this book, if she had not died lots of the events and emotions occurring would never have happened. This book is just full of American football,the whole time,the terminology, the history, the players. All that struck me was how is this supposed to appeal to international readers? In fact I think fans of American football would even find it boring and repetitive. I found myself skim reading plenty of pages, I'm no sports fan (although I do like the Six Nations) and I didn't pick up this book to read endless descriptions that added nothing to the book.

Shea is an assistant sports director in Walker Texas and covers lots of sports but she is really obsessed with American football and Coach Carr! At no point in this book does Shea know what she wants, she moans and groans about everything and can never solidly make up her mind about something. In fact she is just plain annoying and in no way could I warm to her. One minute she is dating Miller, then she moves on to top footballer Ryan James but I felt it was just like a quick fling you never felt they had any emotion or love for each other. The storyline midway through involving Ryan had so much potential but it was just thrown in to stir things up a bit, solved quickly without any real depth or exploration and then the author moved on to the next thing. It was as if she had a list of hot topics to include in the book and was ticking them off a list as she added them. Stick to one or two themes and explore them deeper instead of spreading yourself too thin resulting in a lacklustre read.

The book progress' over the football season and so does Shea's infatuation with Coach Carr. Now this is what annoyed me so much about the book. How in god's name is it ok for you to fancy your best friends father? I get people fall in love and there can be a big age gap between them but obsessing about your best friends father is just wrong on so many levels? Lucy has just lost her mother she doesn't want to have to deal with this as well especially as she is already finding it challenging trying to re-establish a relationship with her father. As for Coach Carr his take on things doesn't become clear until near the end but how could he forget so quickly the mother of his children, the woman who was always there in good times and bad in both his professional and personal life? The whole thing was creepy Shea should have known better, when watching the team practice she uses this description 'Somehow he manages to look sexy in the process, right down to the way he blew his whistle and bellowed instructions , his voice a little hoarse' . I mean come on no way would you look at your best friends dad in that way.It was repulsive at times the way Shea thought of Coach Carr.It is a boundary you do not cross same as you wouldn't go off and marry your best friends ex husband.  I wanted Shea not to give into her feelings but do the right thing by Lucy and I found myself screaming at her. Even the ending really angered me as there was so much chopping and changing!

The overwhelming feeling I had from this book was that it was just dull and boring and the more I read the more disenchanted I became with everything that was going on, which in all honesty wasn't much. With so many wonderful books out there from long established authors and d├ębut authors waiting to be discovered, nowadays a book has to grab me within the first few chapters or at least the first quarter but this did not happen here. For the first time ever I will admit that the only reason I kept going was because I was reviewing it and wanted to be able to say I had given the book a fair chance. I plodded along through chapter after chapter hoping the ending was going to be good and the story might redeem itself but even the ending left me extremely frustrated and quite angry. The characters throughout were unlikeable and wooden and only annoyed me the further I progressed through the story. Even the names of some of the characters were ridiculous – Shea the main character (every time I read her name I kept thinking of shea butter hand cream) and Blakeslee  (the ex of Ryan James star footballer) surely that is the most made up name ever! Yes I get in the beginning they were mourning a person who had played such a pivotal role in their lives but after a while they needed to move on and start to rebuild their lives instead of the pervading feeling of doom and gloom which lasted for quite a bit of the book.

The only one redeeming feature of this book I can mention is that it would be good for a book club. I know I have stated why I didn't like this read but the topic of the relationship between Coach and Shea would get people talking as people obviously would have varying opinions as to what Shea should or should not do. This reader has now given up on Emily Giffin, she is trying to go down a different route with her writing but it was unsuccessful. People should stick to the earlier reads or in fact try a different author altogether, I think that's what I will be doing.

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