The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, by Kelly Harms
Publication: Lake Union; May 1, 2019
About the book:
Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.
Usually grounded and mild-mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man, in particular, makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.
But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.
This was such a fantastic novel! Amy is a librarian in a small PA town raising her 15-year-old daughter, Cori and her 12-year-old son, Joe. Three years earlier, her husband John went on a business trip to Hong Kong and then proceeded to inform her that he was unhappy and wasn’t coming home. Then she runs into him in the drug store. Thus begins a hilarious tale of a father trying to earn the forgiveness of his children and a mom that suddenly gets time to herself. Of course, being the responsible parent and librarian that she is, she decides to take this opportunity to go to a conference in New York to earn some continuing education credits, but ends up doing so much more!
Without giving spoilers, let me say that this one has a fabulous cast of characters that are so different and so developed that it blew my mind. Amy was a great main character, however, I truly feel like her daughter Cori stole the show. Each of her children was wonderfully quirky and smart in their own ways, lending amazingly funny and insightful banter between them. Her best friend Lena (nun turned teacher) was incredible, funny, blunt, and just amazing. Amy, herself was also hilarious, but something about Lena just kept me laughing from beginning to end.
And speaking of laughing, this is truly a laugh out loud book that had me in tears several times. Everything wasn’t always obviously funny, but I would be reading, stop, go back, then be doubled over laughing at the situations. The events and dialogue were just so brutally honest and relatable at times, I just couldn’t help myself! And I good amount of these moments are within Cori’s reading journal entries. Loved that girl… Just loved her!
In some ways, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler has a vibe similar to How Stella Got Her Groove back, but in other ways, it’s just a purely entertaining read and doesn’t really have any life-changing message embedded into Amy’s story. Yes, she got screwed over by her husband and had to pick up the pieces. She gets the opportunity for a break from her everyday life and has a big time in the city. Things change with her and with her children. But when it’s all said and done, she’s still a mom and a librarian – but may just have a refreshed perspective on her life and a new pep in her step.
My only criticism at all, and this is minor, is that I felt the book was a bit longer than necessary. Things were fast-paced for a while, but then it started to drag a bit during the last part of Amy’s visit to New York. Other than that, I found this one to be absolute perfection from beginning to end!
*Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing this copy in exchange for my honest review!