I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Caroline Jacobs is a wimp, someone who specializes in the suffering of tiny indignities in silence. And the big ones, too. But when the twinset wearing president of the local Parent Teacher Organization steps out of line one too many times, Caroline musters the courage to assert herself. With a four-letter word, no less.
Caroline’s outburst has awakened something in her. Not just gumption, but a realization that the roots of her tirade can be traced back to something that happened to her as a teenager, when her best friend very publicly betrayed her. So, with a little bit of bravery, Caroline decides to go back to her home town and tell off her childhood friend. She busts her daughter out of school, and the two set off to deliver the perfect comeback . . . some twenty-five years later. But nothing goes as planned. Long buried secrets rise to the surface, and Caroline finds she has to face much more than one old, bad best friend.
THE PERFECT COMEBACK OF CAROLINE JACOBS is an enchanting novel about the ways in which our childhood experiences reverberate through our lives. It’s the story of a woman looking to fix her life through an act of bravery, and of a mother and daughter learning to understand one another. Deceptively simple and highly engaging, this latest novel by Matthew Dicks is perfect for those of us who were last to be picked at sports, and for everyone who is thrilled not to be in high school any more.
Caroline Jacobs has been flying under the radar for decades, avoiding conflicts and keeping her mouth shut. Then one evening, at the PTA meeting for her daughter’s high school, Caroline snaps. After witnessing the PTA president (and alpha-mom extraordinaire) passive-aggressively bully a working mom, Caroline lets the f-bombs fly. Unfortunately, this directly impacts her aloof teenage daughter, Polly – who on a good day barely speaks to her mom. To Caroline’s surprise, Polly defends her mother’s honor at school and ends up suspended. Mother and daughter hit the road to Caroline’s home town in Massachusetts, so Caroline can confront her former best friend, Emily, who changed the course of her life. Sounds like a totally rational plan, right? Nope, I didn’t think so either.
Once back in her hometown, Caroline must face the demons of her past. She didn’t have the idyllic childhood. In addition to dealing with the fallout from her fight with Emily, she also had to deal with her father’s abandonment of the family and the accidental death of her younger sister at twelve. All of these events shaped Caroline and put her on her path. At forty, she’s afraid to live her dreams. Will facing Emily enable Caroline to break free from past? Or will it force her to reveal a secret she’s kept about her sister’s death?
I really enjoyed this book, despite the dark plot points. The death of any child – fact or fiction, makes me very uncomfortable. Yet despite this devastating event, the book is a fast read. It really is. The plot is tight and the writing flawless. I think the third person point of view helped me when reading because, had this story been told in first person, it would have been too emotional. The underlying message about bullying is universal, but not preachy. As a mom, I found the depiction of the mother daughter relationship a little disconcerting (although by story’s end it had improved greatly), but it certainly provided some of the story’s lighter moments.