Are you observant enough to see a chance for true happiness when it crosses your path? Can nice guys finish first? Tom Putnam, Shakespeare scholar at a small women's college in the south, is undoubtedly a nice guy and has always put others' needs before his own. When a tragedy opens the door to a brighter future, will he be brave enough to step over the threshold?
There she was, as welcome in this insular community as fresh air in a multiplex, a woman who, rumor had it, risked being happy. Tom had heard the most about her from Russell Jacobs, his colleague in the English Department, and now he has looking at her in the flesh, at this tall, slender, dark-haired creature, oddly stylish in her ill-fitting, baggy trousers and white T-shirt.—Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof (St. Martin's Press, 2014, p. 3)
- Setting: Virginia, modern times
- Circumstances: After two new people invade an insular, quiet, and predictable college community, life will never be the same.
- Characters: Tom Putnam, professor; Rose Callahan, book store employee; Agnes, Tom's tough-as-nails mother-in-law; various professors, staff, and students; one surprise visitor
- Genre: contemporary fiction, women's fiction
- Themes: family, duty, love, second chances, addiction, mental health issues, parenting
- What I liked: Small Blessings is a sweet book (and I mean this as a positive assessment). I loved the way the close-knit community reacted to the unexpected, to something new and different. Tom is so nice, loyal, and steadfast that it's easy to root for his happiness. Although there are some heavier themes, this is really a feel-good book that will leave you with hope and a smile on your face. Despite some crazy plot twists that should have had me rolling my eyes, the solid writing and sympathetic characters kept me fully invested.
- Recommendations: If you liked Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, you'll like this debut novel. A fun, light read about second chances and finding the courage to expose your weaknesses to others.
- Audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Macmillan Audio; 11 hr, 43 min) read by the wonderful Lorelei King. My full audiobook review will be available from AudioFile magazine, but in the meantime, let me put it this way: Seriously, would you miss a book read by King? For a sample of the audiobook, click the play button (below).