Author: Adele Parks
The State We’re In is told from multiple points of view in alternating chapters. Our main characters are inextricably linked, to an extent we are aware of from quite early on but our leads don’t discover until very late in the game. This casts quite a shadow over the narrative as breath is held awaiting the big reveal.
The characters are quite memorable, though not all in a good way. Eddie is an old man suffering through his last days, still an extremely selfish man not prone to regret. The one point in his favour is that he is honest, brutally so. The downside of that is he does not consider the feelings of anyone else before he opens his mouth. He was prepared to see out his final days in solitude in the hospital but finds he has a couple of unexpected visitors.
Clara is a classy and elegant older woman who always puts her family first. She is understated and always in complete control of her emotions. Her life hasn’t turned out quite the way she planned, but whose life ever does. All outward signs show an enviable and long term marriage that sets a wonderful example for the children. The house and the marriage exude romance.
Jo is a hopeless romantic, 35 years old and on a run of bad choices in men. She is still working on the bridal magazine she started at as a springboard when she was newly engaged and before she called off the wedding. And to top it all off she has been invited to the wedding of her ex-fiance in Chicago. That invite could signify many things depending on your outlook but Jo chooses to see it as a cry for help – from her ex to come and save him from this trip down the aisle. A tragedy waiting to happen. There were times when I really wanted to sit Jo down and make her really look at some of her outlooks. She was so dependent on finding The One, on having to find the perfect man to complete her and her life and offer eternal happiness. Yet she was willing to settle for someone she knew in her heart wasn’t right because she’d already called a halt to marrying him once but it was the best option she had ever had so it must be the right one. At 35 life is not over, there are still places to go, people to meet and love to be found. All of her glimpses into her happily ever after involved a man and time was running out so the best bet was to go back to the most ‘suitable’ one she’d had and ruin another wedding day for him.
This doesn’t paint Jo in the best light and at times she was extremely frustrating but she was refreshingly honest, able to see her past mistakes and so very hopeful it was painful. She was eternally optimistic and ready to see the best in everyone, which are fabulous qualities as long as you don’t possess them so strongly they make you a little delusional.
Dean is her complete opposite. He is completely jaded and cynical, life has knocked him around quite a bit so that he can’t see the best in anyone. He doesn’t trust easily and he certainly doesn’t let anyone in, he is the eternal pessimist. He is uber handsome and a real ladies man, he doesn’t get attached and he doesn’t do relationships but he’s never been short of companionship.
A sheer coincidence sees Jo and Dean seated next to one another on a long haul flight from England to Chicago. Their differences create quite a barrier between them in the beginning but there is something that draws them together and by they end of the flight they have become quite friendly but still haven’t exchanged contact details.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot because there is so much to gain from going in without preconceived notions and ideas of what will happen.
Adele Parks has written a beautiful tale of falling in love, against the odds, and of opening our eyes to possibilities we may never have recognised. It tells of breaking down the barriers to re-evaluate life and recognise what we really need. A story of awakenings as well as goodbyes, love and loss.
This is my first Adele Parks and I really enjoyed the story, the characters and the settings. I had to keep turning pages to find out what came next. Each chapter represented a different mindset and a completely different perspective on life. A beautiful tale that I would recommend to lovers of romance.