The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase
Published: March 31, 2015 by Ballatine Books
Source: Purchased book
Perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, this bright, funny debut from a fresh voice in fiction offers a delicious take on love, family, and what it means to build a home of one’s own.
Sarina Mahler thinks she has her life all nailed down: a growing architecture practice in Austin, Texas, and an any-day-now proposal from her loving boyfriend, Noah. She’s well on her way to having the family she’s hoped for since her mother’s death ten years ago. But with Noah on a temporary assignment abroad and retired Olympic swimmer — and former flame — Eamon Roy back in town asking her to renovate his new fixer-upper, Sarina’s life takes an unexpected turn.
Eamon proves to be Sarina’s dream client, someone who instinctively trusts every one of her choices — and Sarina is reminded of all the reasons she was first drawn to him back in the day. Suddenly her carefully planned future with Noah seems a little less than perfect. And when tragedy strikes, Sarina is left reeling. With her world completely upended, she is forced to question what she truly wants in life — and in love.
Full of both humor and heartbreak, The One That Got Away is the story of one woman’s discovery that, sometimes, life is what happens when you leave the blueprints behind. [goodreads]
Where do you begin a proper book review when you've just read one of the best stories of the year? I could dive right in with my passionate cheers for a well-rounded story, bringing forth emotion I hadn't quite expected. Or I could slowly build my love for this book layer by layer, thoroughly explaining why it's meant so much to me. Regardless of how the words come pouring from my fingertips, I hope this review does the book justice and propels readers to get their hands on this novel asap.
The One That Got Away is set in the beautiful, eclectic city of Austin (which is also not too far from where I live). So immediately I had a personal connection to the story. It was so easy for me to visualize the different scenes taking place, and so fun to actually see the story come alive. Bethany Chase did an amazing job of writing Austin into this novel. Aside from the setting, I also connected to Sarina's voice immediately. Close to my own age, I identified with her strong will to focus on the career she worked so hard to finally see take off, yet still enjoying the ride as it all unfolded. She's been in a committed relationship for the past few years, with wedding bells not too far off in the distant future. She's content with her life. But you can also see there's something lacking. Yes, she's happy with her present day, but when a spark from her past resurfaces, it ignites a flame she thought had burned out long ago.
As a sucker for any type of romance, I really appreciated this unique, well-written piece. Yes, the title of this book implies that the story must revolve around a certain someone who got away, but it also digs deep into plans Sarina has let get away from her as well. While Sarina's boyfriend takes on a job that keeps their relationship long distance, she allows herself to step back and really focus on the things that matter most to her. I quickly identified with this theme because I can totally see how easy it is to get caught up in our every day lives, forgetting simple practices we once took pride in and let fall to the wayside. While Sarina tackles the long distance relationship with Noah, she also begins to tackle what it is she truly wants in a relationship, as well as her future.
When "the one that got away" named Eamon takes up residence in her circle of friends, she tries to convince herself he's just a friend (as well as a client who's house she is redesigning), and not the guy she had a one night fling with so many moons ago. Their encounters as the story progresses kept the pages smoldering. I was secretly cheering them on, yet wondering if Sarina will truly act on anything while she's in a committed relationship. I knew where her heart would eventually end up, but it was the journey she had to endure that made the struggles and triumphs that much more real.
The One That Got Away is a story that stuck with me for quite some time after I finished reading it. I thought about these characters as if they were real people, wondering what they were up to. It's the type of book you find yourself flipping back to the first chapter just after you finish, because you're not quite ready to let it go. I adore every aspect of this story, and want to hand deliver a copy to every reader I know. The beauty in realizing what you want, and going after what you need, is a selfless act that is so hard to master. I applaud Bethany Chase for delivering such a well-rounded, unforgettable story that I know will be at the top of my favorites for a long time to come.
As some of you know, music is my other passion besides books. After I finished reading The One That Got Away, I heard this beautiful melody from Brandi Carlile and it immediately took me back to the novel. The harmonies are so rich and soulful, while the lyrics told a story very similar story, in my mind, to that of Sarina's. Have a listen...