A truly delicious book! Great characters and great story about a guy who is recovering from catastrophic injuries. It depicts the limbo that veterans stay in, after retiring from active duty, and the uncertainty of their future when they have injuries that limit their options.
Miranda Mae has the life she wants. After a childhood in which her mother constantly insulted and demeaned her, she was strong enough that she made the life she wanted to have and she’s happy in her body, her work, and her friends. She has a no-pants rule, which means that when she’s in her apartment, she doesn’t wear any pants, unless she has visitors. She’s a little overweight but doesn’t care because she “needs” donuts in her life. She has a very close friend Ainsley, who lives with her other best friend Adrian. She also has a little friend, aged eight, called Will, who loves to hang with her when his mom has to work overtime. They eat junk food and play Nintendo. They are best buds.
One day a stranger moves into the apartment next to her, and Miranda has a big crush. He’s so yummy, she has to stalk him from her windows. She knows his routine, so she’s in place at her window in the morning, when he leaves for his walk, and in the afternoon, when he leaves for what we later learn is his therapy hour. She’s happy with her crush-from-a-distance and her stalkerish watching, resisting Ainsley’s prods into introducing herself to the guy.
Holden Steel was in active duty in Afghanistan and during one mission he stepped on an IED. As he’s being carried to a helicopter, his best friend who was literally carrying him to safety, was shot down. Then he was submerged into a hell that lasted six months and he’s now, a retired military, bitter, angry, lost. Until one day he catches his neighbor as she came rushing around a corner, he barks at her and she says: Okay. They have a few other encounters where he continues to act like a jerk, but one day at the coffee shop, he does something extraordinary. Miranda was being berated by her mother and he stepped in and defended her, making her mother scoot away.
After this she decides that he needs a walking companion and she starts joining him for his morning walks. And slowly a friendship is born, that gets to be so important to both of them. Hold was incapable of smiling after the atrocities he had lived, but somehow, Miranda woke up his desire to smile and when he did for the first time, she freaked because he has a dimple, which she declared not fair to womanhood. It’s a panty melter LOL.
What ensues next is a delicious romp of a crazy Miranda and a needy Hold who finds someone who alleviates his sorrow. There are places where he won’t go in their conversations, but he needs Miranda in his life. Miranda is a big heart, and she somehow knows what Hold needs before he realizes it. There are beautiful scenes in the beach, at the NICU where they both cuddle premie babies, play dates with Will, where Hold and Will have a hysterically funny competition for the attentions of Miranda. It turns out that Miranda was a much better therapy for Hold than the formal therapy sessions. Of course, not everybody approves of Holden and they try to boycott their relation. Holden feels like he’s not worthy of Miranda, she’s gorgeous, kind, had a huge heart, helps everyone, gives books to the local library for the enjoyment of others; while he’s broken, unemployed, has no direction in his life and he’s still bitter with this life.
I had a great time reading this book. I loved the sassiness in Hold and Miranda’s dialogues, she was great in cutting him to size, calling to his grumpiness. I loved how Hold opened up to life and love and recognized that he does have a lot to live for. The secondary characters were great, but the one I loved the most was Harper, Hold’s sister, because she was so loud and foul-mouthed, yet such a great friend and sister. And above all, Hold and Will’s antics and competition for the love of Miranda. Will was a riot, loved him!