* * * 1/2
We all have them.
Like the Aqua Net hairstyles back in the 80's, the 90's grunge fad, or the person you lost your virginity to as a teen because you were "totally in love".
I have a few of my own. Specifically, marrying my rebound guy but staying married because I was too weak to fight for my own happiness.
He took me down and kept me there for far too long.
I'm done. Done living with regrets and done not pursuing what makes me happy.
Then you came along and showed me that I was worth more than who I had become.
You are not my regret.
Jocelyn (Joss) is stuck in a loveless marriage with her emotionally abusive husband, Mike. She had long ago given up on the ideal life she hoped for and is now simply living day to day trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy for her two children, and does this with no support system. She's a hostage to her husband's mood swings, parents live far away and she's always felt like an outcast since she doesn't have any friends in town. Joss has just grown to accept the status quo until the day she witnesses her husband lash out at the kids. That's all the convincing she needs to kick him out and start anew. Taking a second job, she works herself to the bone but the strangest thing is happening: folks are slowly coming forward offering her help and most importantly the kindness that she's been missing all these years. One of them is Henry, another divorcee, who hires Joss at his restaurant. He's always been the sole person in town who ever acknowledged her and offered a smile or a quick kind word here and there but kept his distance because she was married. He makes it clear that he's there for her if she ever needs anything. And so begins a friends-to-lovers journey that is second only to Joss' emergence as a woman in her own right.
This is an emotionally-charged read but any story about someone coming out of an abusive relationship would be. I was encouraged at least to see Joss take her life back, keeping her head up despite setbacks or tiredness. Her biggest lesson through it all is learning how to accept help graciously, something she's been reluctant to do until now. The abuse she suffers might be a trigger for some people and what I can say is that Larson shows us a woman who rises up, finds her people and gives love a second chance. Joss gets her happily ever after after all.