Take a Look at Me Now,
by Kendra Smith
Publication: Aria; April 16, 2020
About the book
Out with the old…
Maddie Brown has spent most of her life putting everyone else’s needs above her own. But with her marriage crumbling and her nest scarily empty, she realizes it may be time to spread her own wings and fly.
In with the… ex?
At a university reunion, Maddie meets Greg. He was the love of her life – and the one that got away. Some things never change, and neither of them can deny the feelings that linger between them. But there are so many reasons they can’t be together… not least the massive secret she has been keeping from him all these years.
Maddie is SO ready for a brand new start. But what do you do when the past just won’t stay in the past?
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the latest from author Kendra Smith, Take a Look at Me Now! This novel is about a 41-year-old woman named Maddie. Her 19-year-old-son, Ed, is off traveling the world during a gap year and she is left at home with empty nest syndrome and a less than desirable husband named Tim. When Maddie attends her college reunion, she spots Greg, her true love from her younger days. This coupled with some wise and encouraging words from her Aunt Olive about getting out and living her life, sparks a change in Maddie.
This book is a long one, 498 pages to be exact. Honestly, I would say about the first 20-30% of it sort of dragged for me and I was worried that this one just wouldn’t work for me. Luckily, I stuck with it and found myself completely engrossed in Maddie’s story. Things get interesting when she heads to Bali to check on her son after a surfing accident. There, she not only meets a good-looking surfing instructor, but she also gets to relive some of her earlier days by trying out surfing again for herself. Moreover, she finds herself at concerts, beach parties, and having the time of her life. Unfortunately, while she’s there, a string of horrible things come to light regarding her ridiculous husband, so she’s not sure what waits for her once she returns. Once back in the UK, there’s a whole other chain of events, resulting in Maddie heading to Isle of Wight to fix up her Aunt Olive’s cottage. This is when things start getting interesting!
I’ve seen some reviews of this book that were from younger readers saying that they struggled to relate to/connect with Maddie, making them not enjoy the book. I completely get that because when you’re young, it’s hard to imagine getting to your 40’s and not being happy with your life. However, I completely got this book! Considering I remarried 5 years ago at 40 years old, I found it effortless to relate to and root for Maddie. Who says you can’t start over and create a new life completely unlike the one you’ve been living? Is it ever too late to find your own happily ever after? I found Maddie to be an honest, vulnerable, yet inspirational character. This woman was put through the wringer the entire novel, yet she carried on and excelled in a new career in a new place – for the most part, completely on her own. Yes, she had some circumstances requiring her to ask for help, but overall, Maddie’s character is amazingly independent and strong.
I did have some issues with Greg’s stubbornness and Ed’s judgemental attitude, but overall, I truly enjoyed this novel. Maddie’s character should serve as inspiration for anyone that wonders shouldn’t life be better than this. This was a 4-star read for me (not 5 because of the length and the slow start) and it is one that I highly recommend. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
*Thanks to Aria and NetGalley for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
Google Play: https://bit.ly/2T76A9I
About the author
Kendra Smith has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver, and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space but quickly made the leap to editorial – and went on to work on several women’s magazines in both Sydney and London. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children.