By: Sarah Jio
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2/7/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars
Sarah Jio returns following The Look of Love (2014) with her eighth novel, ALWAYS. Written with the passion, past love, romance, relationships, the music of the 1990s, TBI, and of course the art, beauty, and charm of "spectacular" Seattle. When love never lets go.
“To old love and new, but, most of all, to the kind that lasts, always.”
It is 2008 in Seattle, Kailey Crane, a writer for the Seattle Herald has it all. A successful career, a charming new Craftsman bungalow and an upcoming wedding to the perfect guy, Ryan. He has wealth, looks, and the entire package.
As the book opens, the couple is having a leisurely dinner at the upscale French restaurant, making their upcoming wedding plans. As they are leaving, Kailey comes face to face with a homeless man and his piercing eyes. Shockingly, she recognizes him. Cade McAllister, the love of her life.
Cade was part of her past. They had dated back in the 1990s. A famous record label owner. He loved music. They had matching tattoos. Skin inked a decade prior- a glaring reminder of the past that did not become a future, of the dreams that evaporated into thin air. How he goes from success to thin, bony, and homeless? The sight of him haunts her. Why did he disappear so long ago?
Their tattoos. The word: Toujours, French for “always,” remained on her shoulder. Thinking of Cade reminded her of Tracy her best friend and former roommate. They both had been wide-eyed and idealistic. They believed in true love and happy endings. She and Cade had planned their future.
Kailey is working on an article for work, regarding a series about Pioneer Square and the homeless. Ryan, of course, does not agree with her opinions. They agree to disagree on the areas where their professional interests diverge. Ryan is a developer and thinks they should dynamite the six-block radius. He thinks there is nothing but addicts and vagrants. The homeless.
She wants to help the Hope Gospel Mission, the non-profit organization to help offer shelter to the homeless. The new proposal would entail demolishing thousands of low-income units and shelters. Currently, they were in the midst, of a gridlock with the city.
She believed these establishments needed to keep their doors open. Ryan worked with builders which were ready to throw up apartments, displacing the lifeline for hundreds of homeless people in the process.
Kailey cannot get Cade out of her mind. They had been in love and he left. She had tried to locate him and never found him. He did not recognize her. She must help him and find out what happened to him.
She begins searching the streets for him and ultimately finds him to learn, he has TBI. Traumatic Brain Injury. She puts Ryan, and her wedding plans aside since she is obsessed with helping get Cade off the streets and getting him the medical help he needs.
We revisit the 1990s and the early days of the couple's relationship. Kailey now is torn between her loyalty and love for Cade, and the man she is about to share her future with. Why did Cade leave without a word to her?
A little different novel than some of Jio’s typical historical fiction (have read them all). She brings forth all the charm of Seattle and the strong emotions of a woman, who has to make a difficult choice between two different men.
However, the story of Cade, his former business partner, and his ten years on the street were very undeveloped. The story was quite intriguing, keeping you hooked; however, like most reviewers and readers, we all were hoping for more to "fill in the blanks." I would love to have a POV from Cade. His voice would have been a nice enhancement to the overall story. The ending was tied up in a neat bow; however, left you wanting to learn more about the events leading up the night Cade lost his memory and after.
Possibly more research and discussions regarding TBI, and the homeless social issues. I am a huge fan of Seattle and have spent a lot of time in Pioneer Square, the jazz bars, quaint B&Bs, coffee shops, (ArtWalk, MusicFest), markets, as well as charming inns by the sea in Puget Sound and Snohomish. One of my favorite cities. Nice to revisit through the book.
An intriguing subject, since we learn —as in the book, every homeless person has a story. Any one of us could find ourselves in the same situation, if not for the help of others. We never know their “real” story or their journey. Instead of judging, we all need to join forces to help our communities continue with resources to assist.
The cover is stunning (received the paperback copy) as well as the digital copy. The cherry blossoms, the red scarf, the music, the setting, and the love story. As always, Sarah Jio continues to entertain, with compelling topics and those proposing critical life changing heart-wrenching questions/life choices. What would you do when faced with this difficult choice?
For fans of Colleen Hoover and contemporary romantic fiction.
A special thank you to Random House, NetGalley, and LibraryThing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
On a side note: I reside in the urban downtown area Arts & Entertainment, West Palm Beach and walk everywhere; we have many homeless people, while surrounded by wonderful funky art, grunge, and flair and old converted lofts with a similar vibe to Pioneer Square. There are similar projects here facing the same controversial issues of billion dollar condos going up and replacing the low-income housing, leaving these people displaced and nowhere to turn.