I wrote it because I wanted to tell a story about how life happens to love. -Ruthie Knox
Brief Synopsis: Ten years after How to Misbehave we are given a glimpse back into Tony and Amber’s life. Three kids and money issues have strained the family, particularly Amber, and they are not sure what the future holds for them. A chance meeting at a bar in a tropical location could be the thing that changes everything but whether that change will be good or bad neither one knows.
“They had a dead ember. A light that had gone out.”
Jen: Well Amy, we were both warned when we went in that this would be an emotional one. Little did we know. LOL I hate it when books make me cry!
Amy: This is the third book Ruthie Knox has written that made me cry. Angry cry, sad cry. It’s becoming a pattern to her stories. I’ve joked that Ms. Knox is a closet sadist to her readers with regard to gutting us with emotion. Maybe sadist is a little extreme but I do believe she enjoys evoking her own brand of torment to her readers.
Jen: Part of me was angry over this book. I am a wife of 13 years with three children. I know this book. I live this book. How dare Amber? How DARE she? How dare she be so selfish? She hurt Tony and her kids. She made her choices, what right did she have to go back on those things? I don’t have that luxury, so why should she. I was in quite the state while reading this, lol. I felt Tony was the star here. He was the one willing to do anything to make it work.
“Can I tell you something, bun?” His voice was husky. Strained.
“Anything you want.”
“You’re the reason for everything.” Everything I do.”
Amy: So here is the thing for me. I loved Amber and Tony’s story in How to Misbehave. It actually was my favorite book of the series and then Ms. Knox had to take us down a notch or two with a cold dose of reality in Making It Last. I’m single, never married, no children yet how could I not be emotionally gutted after reading this book? It’s a story of love, commitment and communication. The vital components of any relationship be it a parent, spouse, sibling or friend.
She’d known this about him- known it from the day they met. His worst fear, that he would fuck up, let down his guard, and lose what meant the most to him. “I wasn’t leaving you,”
This quote sent me over the edge. I think because I remember the self-loathing Tony exhibited in How to Misbehave. I believe he never felt like he was worthy of happiness with Amber and as a result he believed that their relationship would only remain solid if he could continue to provide for her.
“If she wanted him, he had to try to be the man she saw when she looked at him. He had to try because God knew he wanted her. She could be his future. For the first time in as long as Tony could remember, he wanted to have one.” -How to Misbehave
So when she pulls away from him in this book, his insecurities manifest and I knew all along he thought she would leave him which infuriated me for him and at Amber. My heart broke for Tony because I knew he felt defeated, hopeless, and blamed himself for not knowing how to fix what was broken.
“Some nights he pulled into the driveway and the house was so big and so dark that he thought, I’m never going to find her. As though their home were full of water, a sinking ocean liner, and Tony had to wade through the cold weight of it, looking for his sinking, silent wife.
Jen: For me, the beauty of this book and Ms. Knox’s writing is how it emotionally raw it leaves me. It made me feel so much, so much that I have a hard time putting those feelings down in words. To take Amber and Tony, a couple we last saw with a HEA, and throw them into a shocking dose of reality….well, pardon my French but that takes balls!
Amy: I agree Jen. I felt so conflicted in the fact that I loved the writing and in many ways hated the story. I believed Tony and Amber deserved a slice of happiness after How to Misbehave. I believed they were steadfast and on solid ground after the first book and then when I finished this story, I was not convinced that they were in a healthy, solid place even after finally confronting their problems. It made me angry and sad. Both Tony and Amber asked each other where they saw themselves ten years down the road. I wanted to see it. I think it would have helped me a great deal if there had been an epilogue ten years later. I wanted validation their love would weather another ten years and be that much more solid.
Jen: An epilogue!! YES. When we left them in How to Misbehave I was confident in that HEA. But now, even though it seems they will be ok, I don’t know if I am ok with how they were ok. Does that make any sense? LOL Either way, I found it so easy to identify with where they were. It is all about making a relationship work when life is moving around you doing its level best to disrupt.
Would you choose me again? He’d never asked. He’d always been afraid of what she’d say.
Amy: I definitely think Ms. Knox took a gamble in writing this story. But it’s a gamble that paid off exceptionally well regardless of all the emotions the story stirs. There are readers that will love it and those that will hate it. Most will not take the time to dissect it for what it is like we do. (Are we crazy or what, lol?!) What I always come back to is how effortless it is to invest in Knox’s protagonists. There is a soulful, humanistic quality that she has mastered with her writing voice that breathes life into her characters. You think you are escaping into a fantasy HEA, hearts and flowers world but in the end you get a brilliantly crafted reality check of how a character copes with life, love, finds hope through despair and adversity, all in an imperfect world like we live in. Knox’s stories are messy, quirky, sexy, honest and always optimistic. In the end, that is what keeps me coming back for more. My favorite quote gutted me, touched me and inspired me. It’s a raw, honest truth and you don’t have to be in a marriage to understand it’s relevance. Final Grade- A
“He didn’t believe leaving could ever be an act of grace. He thought the acts of grace happened when you stayed. When you found something you thought you’d lost, gave something you’d forgotten you had, got something back that you didn’t even know you needed.”
Jen: I once wrote “best 66 pages I have ever read” for one of Ms. Knox’s previous novellas. It was Big Boy and the sheer emotion she pushed out to those pages was so gripping and compelling that I was simply stunned. For me, Making it Last was Big Boy times ten. I think this could be the best thing Ms. Knox has written, in my opinion, and that is saying a lot considering she is an auto-buy for me. Final grade- A
My favorite quote is below and it is one that really touches my life. When I had kids, I realized how difficult everything is. They are so precious and bless Ms. Knox for putting into words what I feel every single day.
It was painful to feel like everything you loved was walking around vulnerable, and you were the only thing standing between it and disaster. Your vigilance. Your protective work. So inadequate but all you had.
****Be sure to read the Note from Ruthie Knox at the end. Her notes are one of the best parts of her books and I look forward to them. This one is especially poignant.
Making It Last by Ruthie Knox
July 15th 2013 by Loveswept
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Stop by later today for an interview with Ruthie Knox and a giveaway.