Read advance reader review of With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt, page 5 of 5

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With or Without You

A Novel

by Caroline Leavitt

With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt X
With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt
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  • Published Aug 2020
    288 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 35 member reviews
for With or Without You
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  • Marianne D. (Crofton, MD)
    I was generous in giving this book three stars. While the characters were for me one-dimensional as portrayed, any of them could have been a credible main character. It seemed to me like the author was trying to decide whom she wanted to take that role. I certainly couldn't tell. From chapter to chapter, I didn't know where I was going or where I would wind up. If that's what the author intended, she achieved her purpose, but awkwardly and too quickly. Characters would show up and then disappear. I found the ending convincing, but as I said, the story leading up to it was too disjointed.

    Normally, I can read about characters of any age, but the actions of these men and women often disturbed me. Characters of real depth, in my opinion, would not demonstrate some of the behavior that occurred on almost every other page of "With or Without You."

    I think this book might work well for some book groups if all the participants made it through to the end (I can't guarantee that they would). I did find enough in the description of the characters and their relationships to serve as discussion material if the group wanted to add a lighter book to its annual list.
  • Kenan R. (Liberty, MO)
    It Was Fine
    I thought this book was a little shallow, considering the subject matter. I mean girlfriend in a coma and all that. The book moved at a nice clip and was easily digestible - great for a beach or quarantine read. I just really did not care about any of our 3 main characters - they were overly simplified. They all lacked depth and emotional maturity, and were a little bit ridiculous with their refusal to reexamine their beliefs about their childhoods. For a book about people coming to terms with their lives it seemed like not a lot of personal growth going on. I feel like a little more nuance could have gone a long way here.
  • Cheryl M. (Le Claire, IA)
    Making the Decision With or Without You
    I would recommend reading Caroline Leavitt's With or Without You.The title subtly weaves its meaning through the main characters' life changes throughout the book. It's easy to emphasize with the agonizing feelings and needs resulting from the life altering effect of a quick decision, followed by smaller, more gradual changes in these characters' lives. Their personal growth and self-realization make them better, happier persons. more able to make good decisions allowing them to apparently lead richer lives. Growing, maturing, and owning our choices, while being kind and forgiving to others, is a lesson learned by all without, we hope, facing major life altering events, with or without those to which were are most close. The writing is a bit wordy but maybe contributes to the feel of agonizing over decisions.
  • Mary Lou C. (Shenadoah Junction, WV)
    With or Without You
    I though this was a good story line and had interesting characters. Unfortunately, it needed far more depth to pull me in. While the characters were interesting, they seemed shallow. All three of the main characters have a lot of baggage and the author tried to resolve it all by the end. Honestly, the story felt like a "rush to market" rather than a long and thoughtful journey. It seemed like it was being written against a deadline, with little time for development. Overall, it was disappointing.
  • Elyse G. (Creswell, OR)
    Okay but predictable
    What can I say - I didn't care for this book. I only finished it so I could review it. There were some parts that held my interest, but not for long. Just less than half-way through, I was able to predict the remainder of the story arc, though not all the details.

    I found the writing to be sloppy at times, just okay the rest of the time. Often scenes went on and on, saying or showing the same thing, just in different words. Much of the important action in the second half of the book was the result of convenient coincidences.

    I'm sure that some (probably less critical than myself) people will enjoy the book, but I can't recommend it.
  • Kay D. (Strongsville, OH)
    With or Without You Left Me More Without than With
    I struggled a bit with reading this book. I had a difficult time relating to the characters and found them a bit weak. I had trouble liking any of them.

    The tragedy of Stella's coma could have been more intensely written about. I just didn't feel real compassion for the event. I did like the twist that people that recover from comas can often end up being different, have different talents and different likes and unlikes. It allowed Stella to move off in another direction and experience life in new ways.

    Stella, Simon and Libby each struggled with what they perceived as challenging childhoods and how those thoughts followed them into adulthood. I found this novel to be a coming of age for 40 somethings. I just had trouble relating to their issues.

    Overall, a relatively easy read and kept me interested enough to finish but not a stellar read. The writing was clean and moved the storyline along at a decent pace. Might be a good discussion book for a book club.
  • Elizabeth L. (Langhorne, PA)
    Just not feeling it
    I had hoped that a story of woman coming out of a coma and dealing with a changed life and old relationships would be insightful or at least moving, but I was very disappointed. The three main characters are continually grappling with questions of "What should I do?" as if they were teenagers rather than 40 something adults. Their impulsive decisions alternately either lead to the "heat" of desire or the "nausea" of a mistake realized too late. I almost started to count how many times the words "heat" and "nausea" were used in this novel. Overall the book felt too much like a soap opera tale to me, and I could not connect with any of the characters. The ending is somewhat unresolved, but I found myself not caring about the resolution. Perhaps if you are looking for a very quick, unsubstantial beach read, this book may interest you. If not, pass for a story with well developed characters who make thought out decisions.


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