… i’ll cry if I want to.
Oh boy, another birthday …
Karen could be excused for crying on her birthday, especially as it’s the first one since her husband got on a plane to the States and never came back. Then there’s the fact that her workmates were practically bribed to attend her birthday meal. But when a restaurant double booking leads to her sharing a table with single dad Elliot and his daughter, things start looking up.
As Karen gets to know Elliot she experiences feelings she thought she’d never have again. But is it enough? Or will the thing that destroyed Karen’s previous relationship also ruin things with Elliot?
Karen’s life isn’t at all what she thought it would be a decade ago when she was newly married, stupidly in love, and wholly optimistic about her future. Fast forward a decade and Karen is sitting in restaurant “celebrating” her fortieth birthday with her “friends” following the demise of her marriage and nothing to show for it but a load of loneliness and one true friend to her name.
Elliot would have been perfectly happy to celebrate his own fortieth birthday with a quiet dinner at home with his daughter. Unfortunately, his daughter has other plans and insists on a special dinner out. What neither counts on is having to share a large table with a group of strangers thanks to a scheduling error. As it happens, the night turns into one of the best of Elliot’s life when he meets Karen.
Neither Karen nor Elliot ever expected to find again what they have with one another. Though the relationship progressed fast and furiously, there is a solid foundation on which they can build. The getting to know one another is slow and steady with lots of loving in between. To make the whole experience even better is the addition of Elliot’s daughter who is smart, funny, independent, and ever so supportive of Elliot and Karen as a couple. In fact, in short order, the three become something of a small family and that is something each has so desperately wanted for a very long time.
As Karen and Elliot progress in their young relationship, the deep, dark secrets of their respective lives come to light. Karen divulges her inability to have children and her desperate need to be a mother, while Elliot explains how he came to be a single father. As it happens, both Elliot and Karen find neither has completely let go of their issues related to their past which makes moving forward into a happy and fulfilled future difficult. In fact, Karen is so committed to her future plans she is willing, no matter how much it hurts to give up Elliot and the love she has found with him. Elliot is so unsettled in certain aspects of his life he is willing to walk away from the greatest love he has ever known rather than admitting the truth and dealing with the issues.
The Bottom Line: It’s My Birthday is quite the hidden gem that kept me engaged from start to finish. This isn’t a sweet romance or the story of two naïve twenty-somethings but the story of two mature, settled adults starting entirely new chapters of their lives. In this way, It’s My Birthday is a mature read and that is one of its strongest aspects. This is the story of very real people, dealing with major life issues in the best way they know how. Both together and separately, Karen and Elliot are wonderful characters I felt absolutely capable of rooting for and wanting the best for. I also quite enjoyed the road they had to travel both together and separately to achieve their happily ever after. This isn’t a golden, flower-strewn path everyone skips merrily along, but a path that is plagued with issues, big and small, that these characters must endure, consider, and navigate in order to achieve their goals. In all, a very solid, very good read that I feel safe recommending to readers who enjoy a bit more maturity and substance in their reads.