NPR pop culture correspondent Linda Holmes is an unabashed lover and ardent defender of the romantic comedy, so it’s unsurprising that her debut novel is exactly that. Evvie Drake Starts Over is a heartwarming rom-com about loss, grief and second chances.
Ever since her husband—a successful surgeon and her hometown’s golden boy—died in a car crash, Evvie Drake has been in the worst kind of rut. Everyone in her small Maine town chalks up her funk to grief, but as far as Evvie is concerned, the truth is far worse. So much worse, in fact, that Evvie can’t even bear to share it with her best friend, Andy, and has instead resigned herself to a life spent as a young widow, rattling around a house that is now far too big for her, content to lose herself in big books and watch life slowly pass her by.
Everything changes, however, when Andy suggests that Evvie rent out her home’s attached apartment to a friend who also has more than a passing familiarity with life not turning out according to plan. Dean Tenney, once one of baseball’s hottest players, is now infamous for his case of “the yips,” a baffling development that forced him into early retirement after he inexplicably lost his ability to pitch, seemingly overnight. After Dean moves in, a tentative friendship forms between the two that ultimately transitions into something more. Together, Dean and Evvie encourage one another to face their pasts and their present truths, all while discovering that even when life throws you a curveball, it’s never too late to find your happily ever after.
Despite the kernel of sadness rooted at the novel’s core, Evvie Drake Starts Over is a feel-good read that radiates warmth. Holmes nails the balance between romance and humor, with Evvie and Dean’s effortless and truly funny dialogue being a particular strength. In addition to developing their convincing relationship, Holmes spends ample time fleshing out her leads so they feel like real people with legitimate issues.
Uplifting and life-affirming, Evvie Drake Starts Over is a perfect choice for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Marian Keyes.