This book is everything. I wish I knew about it when we were discussing toxic relationships in literature. I would have definitely used Evvie and Dean as the perfect example of a healthy relationship.
In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her large, painfully empty house nearly a year after her husband’s death in a car crash. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them.
Meanwhile, in New York City, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy’s childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can’t figure out why. As the media storm heats up, an invitation from Andy to stay in Maine seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button on Dean’s future.
When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts—the friendships they’ve damaged, the secrets they’ve kept—but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance—up until the last out. (taken from Goodreads)
*Contains minor spoilers*
I loved every single character in this book. There’s Evvie, Andy, Dean, and a few supporting characters who were good additions to the story. The characters were so human, which made the story feel more realistic. Evvie experiences grief, anxiety, love, and joy, while Dean has his ups and downs too. The best part was watching them be there for each other and work through their emotions together.
Evvie is such a genuine person and her struggles are relatable. She’s in her early thirties (I would have thought mid-twenties if I didn’t know) and she’s dealing with a lot. Evvie is newly widowed, building her career, worrying about bills, and afraid to let love in. Watching her prioritize herself and her boundaries was satisfying. I also enjoyed seeing her grow and take control of her life.
Andy is Evvie’s best friend; he’s loyal, caring, and an all-around good guy. Their relationship is platonic to the extent that their lack of attraction to one another is a shared joke. But, Evvie isn’t used to sharing Andy. When he starts dating someone, stereotypically, Evvie should be bitter or jealous, and the other woman would feel threatened. I love how Linda Holmes rejected the cliché of women fighting over men. Best of all, the two of them form a real friendship.
Dean Tenney, where do I even begin. He’s funny, respectful, patient, and everything I wanted Evvie to find in her next relationship. Dean shows his emotions and he talks about his feelings. It’s not often that I see vulnerability in male characters and it was awesome.
The book is divided into sections by the seasons, starting in the Fall and ending in the Summer. From the first chapter, I knew that this was going to be a new favourite. I liked how it starts with some backstory and then quickly dives into the action. I’m not a particularly impatient reader, but this story gets going right away, and I never wanted to put it down. This book made me smile, laugh, and get teary-eyed.
The small-town setting really influences the plot. Evvie feels like all eyes are on her once she becomes a widow. She doesn’t know how long to grieve for, especially because her grief is complicated by a secret. Evvie dreads starting to date again. But when she meets Dean, a charming and attractive pro-athlete, she can’t help but fall for him, and their slow-burn romance is so cute.
Friends and family are a big part of this book. I don’t know anything about baseball, but the career advice Dean’s parents give him applies to anyone who has felt like a failure. From Dean’s parents to Andy’s girlfriend Monica and Evvie’s therapist, the supporting characters give good advice.
Mental health is another theme in this book. Monica tells Evvie about her depression, which persuades Evvie to try therapy. I liked how Evvie’s therapist explains the importance of therapy. She uses the analogy that it’s possible to pull out a bad tooth with pliers, but it’s harder that way and more dangerous, so just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Therefore, the same should be applied to mental health.
I thought the writing was perfect. It was more humorous than anything I’ve read in awhile, and the writing is easy to read. It wasn’t over the top and flowery, just simple prose that gets to the point with plenty of witty dialogue.
I’ve said it before; I’m not one to re-read books. But I already want to re-read this. It’s refreshing, uplifting, and funny. As much as I like young adult romance, this book reminded me that adult romance has so much to offer. I could use more books like this, and I’ve listed some popular books from my TBR that are similar if anyone else is interested.
According to Goodreads, people who liked Evvie Drake Starts Over also liked:
- Beach Read by Emily Henry
- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
- One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
- The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes