I enjoy books about family and friendship. Both of these books deal with family upheaval and how they deal with it. There is also an aspect of friendship and community in both stories.

The One You’re With by Lauren K. Denton

Published July 6th 2021 by Thomas Nelson

3.5 Stars:

The Swan family lives a charmed life in small town Spring Hill Alabama. High school sweethearts, Mac and Edie work in their dream careers, interior design and pediatrics and have two wonderful children. All seems perfect, until a young woman knocks on Mac’s office door to share that she is his daughter. Nineteen years earlier, Mac and Edie broke up and during that time, he had a summer fling. Can their marriage survive what Edie sees as a betrayal? Will both their secrets come to light?

The story is narrated by both Mac and Edie. They flash back to their separation nineteen years earlier as they figured out what they really wanted out of life, and was it each other? As they deal with the issues that come up when Riley appears in their lives. Edie is blindsided and wonders what other secrets Mac has kept from her. This is a story of family, relationships, marriage, trust and secrets. Both Mac and Edie kept secrets from one another from that time nineteen years earlier, and as they are revealed, their vows are challenged. Not only are their lives changed, but so are those of their children. Most of the characters seemed liked they were just going through the motions. I never felt the emotion that I I expected from this story, which is an issue for me, and made it difficult to connect with the characters. This is a quiet book, one that asks readers to think about how a mistake in the past can change everything in the future. Are you strong enough to forgive, accept and move forward?

This Is Us by Helen McGinn, Deryn Edwards (Narrator)

Published September 14th 2022 by Boldwood Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Stella and Simon met, when Simon was consulting for the company she worked for. She fell for him quickly and it wasn’t long before they married. Fast forward ten years. Stella has started her own company and her and Simon work together. They have three children and are a happy family, or are they. Suddenly, Simon leaves, giving no reason except that he no longer wants to be married to her. Stunned and broken hearted, and dealing with her grief at the end of her marriage. Stella’s bookclub group made up of family and close friends, convince her to go on a vacation to Florence and just enjoy herself for awhile. While there she gets a phone call from her business manager. There is money missing from the business, a lot of money and she is sure Simon took it. Now she needs to deal with a divorce, a deadbeat dad, and an embezzler.

This is Us was a very enjoyable read. It is a story about life, friendships, family, dealing with a family breakup, moving on and new beginnings. I liked that Stella had to deal with life, without a new romance in her life. The ladies were great characters. They were strong, relatable and stood by one another. I really liked their friendship and how they supported each other, listening, being friends and not telling each other what they should do. The marital and family break up was unfortunately too realistic, with Simon blindsiding Stella. When Stella finally got angry, I loved the way she dealt with Simon. The book wasn’t all doom and gloom thought. The trip to Florence was fun. I really felt like I was there with the wonderful descriptions of food, drinks and activities. This was where there was some humor in the book, showing the wonderful friendship and sisterhood of the friends. The ending was satisfactory with Stella and her children moving forward into a new beginning. The audiobook is narrated by Deryn Edwards. Ms. Edwards is a new narrator to me, but I will listen to more books she narrates. She has a pleasant voice to listen to and was able to give the characters a voice I enjoyed. She used tone and expression to add emotion to the story. If you enjoy a story about family, strong female friendships, and new beginnings, then I recommend you pick up This is Us.