Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review: Sweet Life

Summary: What if you got away from it all—and then it all got away from you? When her husband gets a new job, Marissa Price leaves the island of Manhattan for the island of Hawaii. Paradise seems like the perfect place to find herself, save her marriage, and reconnect with her daughter. But Marissa discovers her new life is less about beaches and beautiful sunsets and more about cows and lava flows. Their new “home” is a fixer-upper. But what most needs fixing—her marriage— is the first thing to crumble when her husband announces he wants time apart to find himself. Pulled in opposite directions, Marissa is faced with the most important decision of her life—a choice that will define who she is, what she wants, and where her happiness lies. -- Berkley

I'm not sure that there is technically a genre called "mom lit," but I think I'd have to classify SWEET LIFE by Mia King as just that. SWEET LIFE is the story of Marissa, a wife and mother, who gives up her career and apartment in Manhattan to move to Hawaii for her husband's job. Oh and by the way, she hopes that by moving to Hawaii, she can save her marriage. This book definitely sounded like one that I'd enjoy with lots of family dynamics and conflict; and I'm happy to say that I did like it -- a lot. I am so glad that there are books out there for those of us who are "mature" (married with children) and that have interesting female characters.

I really enjoyed SWEET LIFE. It is a great story with some terrific and memorable characters. It's a relatively light, easy read; however, it also touches on some very serious (and very real) issues that affect many women in today's society. I have a feeling that you will be reminded of yourself, or even some of the women you know, when you read about the female characters in this story. I loved how this book showed the strength and resilience of women, and how women will pull together to help others.

I have to admit that I didn't always love Marissa. Maybe it's because I saw in her things that I don't like about myself, but she definitely got on my nerves in the beginning of the book. I found her to be very self-centered and at times almost arrogant; however, I like how the author developed her character. She was definitely flawed, and yet I found myself rooting for her. In so many ways, SWEET LIFE was really a coming-of-age story from Marissa (even though she was a woman in her early 40.) As a reader, I enjoyed seeing Marissa discover things about her relationships and her life in general that made her a better person. I was actually quite touched by this story, and it ended up warming my heart a great deal.

As a child, my family moved a lot so I could totally identify to the parts of the story about acclimating to a new environment and a new culture. While I haven't experienced a move quite as drastic as moving to Hawaii, I could understand Marissa's frustrations and feelings of being an outsider. I thought Ms. King did a wonderful job of showing the huge differences between living in Manhattan and living in Hawaii. In fact, I thought her descriptions of Hawaii and its people were perfect.

I think what I enjoyed most about SWEET LIFE were the overall messages in this story. After I finished this book, I just had to smile. This book showed the importance of family and friends as well as finding what makes you happy. I don't think I will ever tire of books that make me think about those themes. Of course, I also liked how Marissa discovered things about herself and realized what was truly important in her life.

My book club is all 30- and 40-somethings, so I think SWEET LIFE would be a great discussion book for my group. I think many women will relate to at least some aspects of the females in this novel. There is a reading guide available which further delves into the themes of marriage, family, trust, self awareness, and friendships. I also think hosting a meeting for this book would be so much fun. Since the story takes place in Hawaii, you could do an entire island-themed party. And since food is such a huge part of this story (there are even recipes included in the back of the book), you would have no problem coming up with some awesome treats!

SWEET LIFE is the first book that I've read by Ms. King, but it won't be my last. I already have TABLE MANNERS and can't wait to read it. Ms. King has a fantastic website that you really need to check out. She has a special recipe box section where you will find lots of delicious recipes and even recipe tips. She even has entertaining/hostess ideas, related food trivia, and guest author recipes. I think her website is a terrific resource for your next party or book club meeting.

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this novel.


Mary (Bookfan) said...

I liked this book too.

I've read all of Mia King's novels and would suggest reading Good Things before Table Manners if only to read about the main characters' story (how they met, became involved, etc). Table Manners can stand alone but I LOVED Good Things and enjoyed Table Manners even more because I knew the 'back story' (from Good Things). I'll watch for your reviews!

Beth F said...

I love your enthusiasm for this book. And thanks to Mary for the tip on the reading order of the other books.

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like a book I could totally relate too since we still live as vagabonds and I have experienced a dramatic move with a culture shock. Great review.

holdenj said...

Thanks for another intro to a new-to-me author. It sounds like a good book. And as for the mom-lit genre, my friends and I think it is definitely alive and well, we've read several books we refer to that way!

Enjoy Disney!

Book Escape said...

This books sounds great. I really like books that are character-driven and it's nice to find one with such a strong female character.

And, recipes, too. What a find~

Stacie said...

I definately want to read this and other Mia King books!

S. Krishna said...

I've read Table Manners by Mia King, and really loved it. I really want to go back and read her first two! Thanks for the review.