Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a story I love with a pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.
HEART CONDITIONS is the third book in Phoebe Fox’s Breakup Doctor series which chronicles the adventures of therapist Brook Ogden as she helps her clients through heartbreak, while navigating her own relationships with family, friends, and lovers. The concept is a fresh take on the age-old notion of physician heal thyself. As a writer, it’s the type or premise you read and think– that’s brilliant, why didn’t I think of that? Here’s what I loved about this book:
- The chick lit thing: Earlier this year, Women Writers, Women’s Books posted a great interview with Fox where she talked about the “chick lit” of today. I’m not going to bore you with the back story behind the great chick lit backlash of late 90’s early 00’s, but in summary the term came to be associated with stories about female protagonists driven by a laser-like focus on marriage that was only occasionally interrupted by their love of name brand shoes. The chick lit I’ve always loved (I promise, it has always existed) was about the women’s story of finding her own strength with some humor (and often a romantic relationship) interjected along the way. Fox also views the genre in a similar way and HEART CONDITIONS is that story. If this is the new wave of chick lit then– yes, please.
- The ex-boyfriends-turned-friends story line: At the beginning of the novel Brook’s ex-fiance, from two year ago returns. He has made big changes for the better and announces that he still loves her. At the same time she is just beginning a friendship with a more recent ex, for whom she still has feelings. These two events leave Brook navigating all these really interesting emotions around forgiveness and uncertainty and love. Fox deftly steers away from oversimplifying this into he hurt me and it’s over forever or I still love him and will stop at nothing to get him back, making the story completely engaging and keeping the reader guessing. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that this lovely friends-to-lovers triangle reminded me ever so slightly of the Felicity/Ben/Noel dynamic from the 90’s television show Felicity (which I might still have a slight obsession with).
- The counseling stuff: I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about Brook’s profession in the book. I knew that I wanted to love it–because this is exactly the type of story that is my favorite and because of the author’s aforementioned philosophy about chick lit. However, I have a graduate degree in counseling, and I needed Brook’s theory to be on point. If it wasn’t this would have been the one thing that turned me off on the story. Thankfully she was spot on. (Yes– that is exactly how and why group counseling works!)
- The craft beer drinking female main character: Done and done. I’ve made it known how I feel about the notion that ladies drinks must be pink, so whenever there’s a main character who opts for something else I want to hug the author (and take her out for a beer).
Speaking of which… I’m pairing HEART CONDITIONS with Saison du BUFF. Or, as I like to call it the delicious beer with the funny name…. because BUFF, like in the buff, as in naked. My giggly inner 7-year-old self aside, BUFF is actually an acronym for Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor and this is a beer created in collaboration between three breweries: Stone, Victory, and Dogfish Head (the full story is here). Saisons, or farmhouse beers are my go-to style and this one is brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. It’s playful, yet perfectly crafted. Just as HEART CONDITIONS, is a book in my go-to genre that is the perfect blend of lighthearted fun and poignant observations on the intersection self-worth, friendship, and love. Cheers and happy reading!
Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-may-2016 And check back here tomorrow for the May installment of Books & Brews!