Monday, September 7, 2015

Sweet Thing by Renée Carlino

fpo Sweet Thing is a complicated romance between a man who knows what he wants and a woman who doesn't, at least not at first. After her musician father dies, Mia moves to New York to take over her father's cafe and apartment. She meets Will, a promising singer/songwriter/guitarist, on the plane. The two of them hit it off instantly and quickly become friends and then roommates. There's a deep connection between Will and Mia from the get go, the kind of connection that leads to a life long friendship or maybe something more.

Will falls for Mia pretty quickly, desperately hoping their friendship evolves into a romance. Mia is less sure. Of course she is attracted to the handsome, charming, sensitive soul that is Will, but she isn't quite ready for a Will in her life and it shows, sometimes painfully. The first three-fourths of the novel can be summed up as follows: Mia and Will are friends. Mia and Will get a little closer. Mia freaks out and is cruel to Will, insulting him and pushing him away. All of their friends more or less side with Will, while trying to help Mia deal with her issues. Mia realizes the error of her ways and apologizes. She and Will resume their friendship, and the whole cycle starts again, rinse and repeat.

Truthfully, Will isn't the only thing Mia is unsure about. She is a 25-year-old classically trained pianist with a business degree from Brown. She hasn't really done much with her life since college. To be fair, Mia has a lot going on when she meets Will. She has just moved from Michigan to New York. She is mourning the loss of her recently deceased father while taking on the responsibility of running the business her father started. She is caring for her 13-year-old dog that is slowly dying. As if that were not enough, Mia discovers some long held secrets about her family and the circumstances surrounding her birth. Who can blame her not being willing or able to jump into a serious relationship with Will, even if he is a great guy?

If there was anything I would change about this story it would be for there to be more compassion for Mia. Will was great and Mia was often not so great. But in her defense, she was also 25 and dealing with the loss of a parent. Will was nearing 30 and at a point in his life when he was starting to think about settling down. Sometimes timing really is everything. Their friends could have been a tiny bit more compassionate about Mia's uncertainty under the circumstances. 

There was also one strange thing about this book - the prologue and epilogue. Both are from the point of review of a random woman Mia meets at the airport. The middle aged mother of two sees Mia and thinks about what she was like at Mia's age and the difficulties Mia will inevitably face as she grows older. Then this random woman appears again towards the end of the book and I wasn't sure why. It didn't really add anything to the story. I suppose the prologue and epilogue could be interpreted as a glimpse of Mia's life fifteen years in the future, but that wasn't at all needed. It was a little too on the nose. It would have been better to have left that out and left the audience guessing at Will and Mia's relationship would evolve.

Notwithstanding the unnecessary prologue and epilogue, I enjoyed Sweet Thing. The characters, Mia in particular, changed and grew emotionally throughout the course of the novel. The payoff was well worth it.

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