By: Mary E. Mitchell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: November 2010
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: November 17, 2010
Kate Cavanaugh had the perfect life. She was married to Kyle, a handsome, loving husband who adored their two children. But at 42, Kyle died in his sleep and Kate's life fell apart. Now, two years later, her daughter Charlotte has gone from a loving child to a rebellious, out-of-control teen while her son Hunter, once an adorable toddler, is now a ketchup bottle hugging youngster who has withdrawn and barely speaks. Kate knows her life is spiraling out of control but she doesn't know what to do.
Kate works as a guidance counselor at the local high school, which is convenient since she can keep an eye on Charlotte. But the other teachers and counselors seem to know more about what is going on with Charlotte than her mother. All Kate and Charlotte ever seem to do is argue.
While watching Charlotte’s soccer practice one afternoon, Kate meets the father of one of the other players. His name is Foster Willis and before she knows it, Kate has a date with the man. Well, not a date, she tells herself, “…is it really a date if you eat dinner with one different person at one different table?” But like everything in Kate’s life lately, the “date” goes badly and she leaves the restaurant in a huff.
Kate doesn’t love her job as a guidance counselor but at least it gives her a reprieve from her home life. One of her duties is running the sessions for the at-risk kids. When tragedy strikes one of those students, it affects the whole school, as well as Kate and her family.
I was immediately drawn into this story of a family in crisis. The author did a fabulous job of creating a family in turmoil, with all the arguments, frustrations, and feelings of loneliness, both from a mother trying to raise a family alone, as well as a daughter who is crying out for help. While I found Marge, the neighbor who could, in the eyes’ of Kate’s children, do nothing wrong a bit annoying at times (she was simply too perfect), the other characters were rich and believable. This is not a book where the protagonist falls deeply in love, there’s a bit of fighting as the kids adjust to the new man, and then they all live happily ever after. No, Love in Complete Sentences is more like real life, with its ups, downs, and no easy solutions. The ending was satisfying and I look forward to other books by Mary Mitchell.
Quill says: You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to give Charlotte a big time-out and hug Kate as she slowly tries to rebuild her family.