Title: The Life You’ve Imagined: A Novel
Author: Kristina Riggle
Release Date: August 17, 2010
Publisher: Avon A
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Anna Geneva is a successful lawyer in Chicago who has poured her heart and soul into her job in order to make partner. She’s so close, when a close friend dies and her boss orders her to go home for some time in order to deal with his death. When she arrives at home, she stays with her mother, Maeve, who is having trouble coping with the world around her. Anna’s close friend Cami has also moved home, but her situation is more troubling. Her alcoholic, violent father makes home the last place Cami wants to be, yet she is so desperate she doesn’t have a choice. And Amy, Anna’s friend from school, is finally getting married, and though she is beautiful on the inside and out, she is afraid that her fiancé Paul will never truly love her if she gains back the weight she has tried so hard to lose. These four women, connected through their friendships, must examine their lives in order to understand the choices they have made and where they will go from here.
I really enjoyed Kristina Riggle’s debut novel Real Life and Liars, so I was looking forward to her second book. I follow Kristina on Twitter so I’ve been watching the writing process of this one closely. Though I wasn’t entirely sure what it was about when I received it for review, that didn’t matter. I knew I wanted to read it, regardless of the subject matter.
The Life You’ve Imagined is very different from Real Life and Liars, but it has one very simple thing in common: extremely well-developed and sympathetic characters. Riggle is wonderful at creating characters the reader intuitively understands. It’s easy to see yourself in each of the people she depicts. Their insecurities, hidden longings, secrets – the reader will feel each and every one of these deep down as they read them on the page. It makes the experience of reading this book wonderful, especially as these characters grow and change.
The main message of The Life You’ve Imagined is both hopeful and realistic at the same time. What is the life you’ve imagined? Are you living it? For all of these women, the answer is no, in some form or another. But that doesn’t mean that life can’t be wonderful anyways. As we grow, we adjust our expectations to match our experiences. What are the choices that have brought us to this point, and where will we go from here?
This novel isn’t perfect. Things don’t end in happily ever after – that’s not real life. I thought things would end differently for some of the women, especially Amy. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the book though. Instead, it reinforced the world we live in, the balance between hope and reality. You can’t face reality without hope, yet if all you have is hope then the reality of things is unbearable. It was a beautiful balance that really makes the reader reflect on their own situation.
I really enjoyed The Life You’ve Imagined and hate that it’s over. Riggle shows great promise with this novel, and my expectations have only gone up for her work. I am eagerly anticipating her third book in order to see where she goes next.