Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I really don’t know how to rate this book nor what I should include in my review. I was deeply touched by this story but I just don’t like how I felt at the end of it and that in no way reflects the author’s writing.
I’d like to point out that I generally always read romance and I love myself a happy ending. With all the stress and pressures in life these days I read mostly for some escapism…I want to finish a book with a smile on my face and after I’d finished Pictures of You I just felt plain heartbroken. I knew going into this story that it was going to be sad and emotional but maybe naively expected a happy ending. The ending was not what I expected.
Isabelle is heading to New York after leaving her husband, whom she has been with since she was 15, after she discovers he has been unfaithful and his girlfriend is now pregnant with his child. Isabelle is now in her late 30’s so they have been together for a long time. They don’t have any children together as after suffering a late term miscarriage Isabelle is told she is unable to have children of her own.
Whilst driving along a very foggy road Isabelle comes across April standing in the middle of the road, her car facing the wrong way, and her son Sam by the side of the road. Unable to avoid the collision Isabelle collides with April and her car and April is killed instantly. Her young son flees the scene and hides in the bushes. Isabelle looks for him and he sees her as an angel in the fog with the sun behind her believes her to have a halo and wings. When she hears sirens in the distance she runs back to the car and he doesn’t see her again at the accident site.
We don’t find out April’s reasons for being on the road until later in the story and I am cautious about giving away too many spoilers so I won’t reveal why she was leaving and why her son was with her. April’s husband Charlie had no idea that his wife was leaving him and why she would be three hours away in car accident with his son by her side and a suitcase in the car. Not knowing why troubles him throughout the book.
The time frame moves quite quickly in this novel and we get to see the grief that Isabelle, Charlie and Sam go through. I like the way the author portrayed Charlie’s grief and I felt genuine loss for Charlie.
Isabelle seeks out some counseling and is trying to process everything she has been through and the negativity she receives through the papers and gossip. She is a photographer and works in a studio taking kids portraits and there are parents who no longer want her to photograph her children.
Isabelle gets stressed out being a passenger in a car and hasn’t driven since the accident. She rides her bike around town and finds herself repeatedly riding past Charlie and Sam’s house and Sam’s school. One day Sam sees Isabelle (still believing that she is an angel and will be his connection to talk to his mother) and they talk and from there a connection is made. Initially Charlie doesn’t think it’s a good idea for Sam to talk to Isabelle, but after Isabelle talks to him about photography Sam takes an interest and his photos seem to be something that makes him happy. Isabelle and Charlie have a relationship together but they keep this from Charlie, who believes they are just friends. Due to Sam's chronic health problems and the stress he has been under Charlie wants to take the relationship very carefully.
I felt there were some inconsistencies in the storyline and some issues that weren’t resolved. I know I’m reading fiction and I’m not terribly bothered if an author doesn’t follow facts 100% but I just couldn’t believe a 9 year old boy who nearly dies from chronic asthma can recover completely from it in the short space of time that Sam did.
Sam befriends a boy at school who obviously has a traumatic home life and he flits in and out of Sam’s life but we never really found out Teddy’s story.
I thought that Charlie and Isabelle could have worked through the issues and talked a lot more about what was going through their minds and where they wanted their relationship to go.
I would have liked to have heard Luke and April’s ‘voices’ throughout the story and Luke’s thoughts as to why he was unfaithful to his wife when I believed he loved her and also April’s thoughts as to why she was leaving Charlie.
Towards the end of the book I found myself skimming and just wanting to find some happy. Something happens at the end of the book that I won’t give details of because it is quite a spoiler, but it was something that just made me even sadder. I think this is a story that I will re-visit and re-read as I did skim over the ending, which is something I try not to do and maybe I’ll enjoy it more knowing I’m not going to get what I want at the end.
At only $1.99 through Amazon Kindle Pictures of You is definitely worth reading.
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