Friday, December 16, 2016

ARC Review & Giveaway: Always by Sarah Jio

Expected publication: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Preorder links: Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble
From the "New York Times" bestselling author of "Blackberry Winter "and "The Violets of March" comes a gripping, poignant novel about the kind of love that never lets go, and the heart s capacity to remember.

While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle s chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can t believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the "Herald" and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt" right." But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants.

Alternating between the past and the present, "Always" is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she s willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

Praise for Sarah Jio
Goodnight June
"Sarah Jio s delightful and uplifting novel is guaranteed to melt even the toughest cynic and deserves a top rating of five stars (plus the moon)." Historical Novel Society"
"A tribute to family and forgiveness." Booklist"

Morning Glory
"Jio explores the degree to which time and distance give comfort to those who have experienced loss [with] a depth of feeling in her writing." Publishers Weekly
"Jio has become one of the most-read women in America." Womans World

Blackberry Winter
"Compelling . . . an intoxicating blend of mystery, history, and romance." Real Simple
"Ingenious . . . imaginative." The Seattle Times
My Thoughts
I’d like to believe my standards for giving a book five-stars is pretty fair and consistent. One common criterion includes stories that have me thinking about the subject matter well beyond the pages of the book and long after I’ve completed the final chapters. Always by Sarah Jio accomplished that in more ways than one. This book definitely has staying power, and days after finishing it I'm still thinking about the content and characters! It was a beautiful combination of heartfelt struggles, deep connections and social issues that should not be ignored.

In her latest novel Always, Jio shares Kailey Crane’s struggle of having to choose between the man she’s decided to spend the rest of her life with and one that suddenly reemerges after a devastating disappearance. It all happens one night when Kailey and her fiancé Ryan are leaving a restaurant, and a homeless man on the sidewalk catches Kailey’s attention. She’s convinced the man she locks eyes with is the love of her life that disappeared suddenly and with no warning years prior. Cade McAllister has been wandering the streets for years, and now Kailey has to decide whether she should try and make sense of what happened and help Cade, or continue with the perfect life she’s begun with Ryan.

From the very beginning of this novel, I knew I was in for an emotional ride. It is clearly evident that both men loved Kailey, and having the story told in alternating time references helped put into perspective how Kailey felt about Cade and Ryan.

Throughout the story, I knew there was more to Cade’s disappearance that what was presented on the surface. He had a deep connection with Kailey that was believable and heartfelt.

“I was looking for you the whole time… I just didn’t know it… I love you more every day. ~Cade” Quote taken from an uncorrected proof of Always by Sarah Jio

I admired Kailey for the choices she had to make throughout the novel. Considering the pain and devastation she experienced with Cade’s disappearance and subsequent reappearance, the decisions she made where admirable. However, that didn’t stop me from feeling an emotional pull for both men because they clearly loved Kailey, and where one needed her help to put his life back together, the other had begun to build a future with her that was clearly built out of love.

“I may not have closure, but I have tasted wisdom. Anyone who has ever had their heart broken, or even bruised, has learned that there’s finality in facts. He left. And I realized that when someone wants to leave, you have to let him go.” Quote taken from an uncorrected proof of Always by Sarah Jio

Throughout her novel, Jio grapples with a topical subject that is becoming a social crisis in the U.S., which is homelessness. Recently, this has become top of mind for me because I’ve noticed a growing number of homeless people as I drive into work, mainly the homeless camps alongside the freeways and those that wander the streets and not just in low income communities, but also, affluent neighborhoods. As I was reading this novel, it led me to look up some of the statistics, and it was devastating to learn that that are over 560,000 homeless people in the US. That number is simply tragic considering the economic maturity of our country. What surprised me even more is that the reasons for homelessness go beyond drug and alcohol abuse. Many people find themselves out on the street because of job loss, divorce, and domestic violence. What’s even more difficult to accept is that mental health contributes significantly to this growing epidemic and our country is closing mental health institutions forcing these people out on the streets.

As I kept paging through this novel, researching this social issue on my own, and talking with family and friends, I knew this story consumed me in more ways than one. Always is emotional, heartfelt and most of all relevant. I hope it makes waves when it hits the shelves in 2017. This book deserves attention for the social issues it brings to light and the manner in which Sarah Jio chose to present her story. Five stars indeed!

Thank you Penguin Random House for allowing me to read an Advanced Readers Copy of Always by Sarah Jio.

Site References
2016’s Shocking Homelessness Statistics
The Truth About Homelessness
5 Snowflakes

If this sounds like a story you would enjoy reading, WinterHaven Books is giving away an ARC copy of Always by Sarah Jio. Simply fill out the rafflecopter and share a thoughtful comment below. This giveaway is open to US Residents only. 

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  1. I love Jio, and I can't wait to read this one. Great review!

    1. Thank you Annette! I hope you enjoy it as well!

  2. I would love to read this book--it's emotional and deals with homelessness--we have two gentlemen who are always about all year long here in my city. The local grocery store allows them to sit protected near their doors on a bench. My church helps them out too with blankets and clothing. Our winters here are so brutal--I don't know where they go on days like today.

    1. Oh wow Danielle that very nice of the grocery store and I'm glad your church is helping out as well. We have a couple of folks that come near our neighborhood and I wonder how they keep warm during the cold. It's very sad.

  3. Why do I want to read this book? There are a few reasons. I am very curious to find out how Cade became homeless. Also, In the past, Cade was Kailey's love of her life, yet after the break up she moved on. If Cade is her true love did it stand the test of time? Or is there no such thing?

    1. All very good questions that Jio does a great job of developing during the story. I hope you get to read the book soon Angie! Good luck. :)

  4. Sounds like a great read. As long as It's not love triangle-y, It's definitely one I want to read. Great review!

    1. Thank you Lekeisha! Good luck with the giveaway. :)

  5. Homelessness is an issue that some of my students face. I'd like to read this because it might help me to understand a little of what they're going through.

    1. Oh wow! I'm so sorry to hear that. Best of luck on the giveaway. Thank you for visiting our blog. :)

  6. To find a lost love again would be a great read but to find him in the state he is in would be heartbreaking. I would love to see how the story ends.

    1. I hope you get to read it. It was really good!

  7. Very helpful suggestions that help in the optimizing topic,Thanks for your sharing.


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