Summary: Noelle Ryan works as a veterinary technician at a New England animal shelter, helping pets find homes. If only it were as easy to find one for herself. After discovering she can't have children-and watching her marriage fall apart after a shocking revelation by her husband-she feels as sad and lost as the strays she rescues.
She can't seem to get over her ex, Jay. Unfortunately, all Jay wants from her is a huge favor: serving as caretaker for his elderly mother, who blames Noelle for the breakup. While Jay heads off to Atlanta to live the life of a bachelor, Noelle is left only with her Great Dane, Zeke, to comfort her. But when a carefree musician named Jasper tugs at her heartstrings, giving her a second chance at life- and at love- Noelle comes to realize that home is truly where the heart is. -- Berkley
When I discovered that Eve Marie Mont is practically a local author (well she lives two hours away in Philly, but that's almost local when you live in Central PA), I just knew I wanted to read her debut novel FREE TO A GOOD HOME. The description of the novel made it sound like one I'd enjoy, and it certainly seemed like a good summer read.
So a few days ago, I packed the kids up and took them to the swimming pool. (It's a win-win because they can play and I can have some reading time!) I sat down and read FREE TO A GOOD HOME, and I have to say that it was a very sweet story. It was a relatively quick read, but it did keep my interest throughout. I even found myself attached to a few of the characters, and I was definitely rooting for them to find some happiness.
At its core, FREE TO A GOOD HOME is about Noelle a woman in her early thirties who finds herself a little lost after her divorce. She isn't exactly confident in the relationship arena because her husband (who she still holds a torch for) left her because he was gay. In addition, she is still trying to cope with her diagnosis of infertility while everyone around her is having babies. Needless to say, Noelle has some major baggage! However, I found it extremely hard not to feel compassion towards Noelle, and I did really like her (despite her issues and how she sometimes coped with them.)
One thing that did bring Noelle happiness was her job as a veterinary technician. She loved helping unwanted dogs find a good home where both the dog and the owners were happy. And really, her desire to make things "right" and keep others happy was indicative of many of the choices in her life -- both good and bad. FREE TO A GOOD HOME shows how Noelle discovered the truth about some of her personality issues and decided to make a few changes to herself. In the process, she developed a wonderful friendship with her ex-husband's mother as well as budding romance with a hot, younger guy.
I enjoyed FREE TO A GOOD HOME. While parts of the story were kind of predictable, I didn't really mind. The story was fun and sweet and that's exactly what I hope for when I read a book like this. I especially appreciated how Ms. Mont developed the character of Noelle. At times she was almost self-destructive and a glutton for punishment, yet she always wanted to help others. I also liked how Noelle was constantly reading ads about houses for sale (each chapter started with an different ad) because it symbolized her larger desire to find a "real" home -- and I don't just mean in the house/building sense of the word.
The secondary characters in this novel were also interesting. I couldn't help but love her boyfriend Jaspar, although he was almost too perfect. And I absolutely couldn't stand her selfish ex-husband Jay, although he did come around towards the end of the novel (hopefully!) But the character that really stood out to me was Jay's mother Margaret. Margaret was suffering from MS and Noelle was acting as her caregiver. During the marriage, the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship was strained to say the least; however, when Margaret realized how sick and alone she was, she came to truly appreciate Noelle. I really loved how their friendship developed throughout the story, and how each woman came to see the other more completely.
FREE TO A GOOD HOME would make a fun book club pick for this summer. As I mentioned earlier, it is a quick, easy read that's ideal for summertime reading. There is a reading guide in the back of the book, but I wasn't able to find the questions on-line. Some of the topics you might discuss include the role of pets in our lives, the meaning of home, mother/child relationships, infertility, aging and illness, and self-discovery. While I initially considered the book to be on the light side, there are quite a few serious issues present in the story.
I definitely recommend FREE TO A GOOD HOME if you are a fan of fun women's fiction or even if you like dogs. It's a cute book that is guaranteed to entertain you!
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel. Make sure you check out Ms. Mont's guest post for Book Club Exchange.